Chinese American guanxi

Here’s a Los Angeles Times story about how the Huntington Library in San Marino, an institution built on the backs of Chinese laborers during the 1800s, is financing its new Chinese Garden with donations from Chinese Americans that its founder would have considered servants and “not equal socially at all.”
Kind of interesting, and OK, there are a lot of Chinese in San Garbriel Valley, a point overdone in mainstream media at times.

I’m also annoyed when ever guanxi is mentioned in a story about Chinese business practices, or in this case fundraising. The story says that “fundraising in the Chinese community relied heavily on guanxi, or the connections of the person asking for money.” Duh. Isn’t that the foundation for how people do business, no matter what race or ethnicity they are?

I can see how if you’re an American company trying to do business in China that having guanxi would be important for outsiders trying to break into a new market. But again, isn’t that true for any business anywhere?

I think this concept of guanxi is overused and becoming a stereotype.

This post is also up at Hyphen magazine.

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