A colleague in Beijing said, “It’s all about relationships. And trust.” It was one of the moments that confirmed our vision for Guanxi—a word that means the special kind of relationship we all need to develop a facility for in order to be successful in China and working with Chinese colleagues.
William Theodore de Bary, Columbia University’s famous and venerable scholar of Asian studies, echoed this comment about trust when I asked him what modern professionals could learn from Confucius. He replied that Confucius once said that arms, food, and trust were necessary for governance, but that if necessary arms and even food could be forgone—but not trust. It’s as trust is built that business relations will flourish.