Value Added Tax
➤ VAT in China is variable, but generally runs 5 percent or 6 percent for most services and up to 17 percent for manufactured items.
➤ Exhibits can be shipped in on ATA Carnets for temporary entry into Beijing without getting taxed.
➤ Exhibit halls use 220-240 V.
➤ Your I&D contractor should be able to supply you with adaptors, but bring at least one from home to avoid downtime once you arrive on the site.
➤ Your booth contractor is responsible for collecting and removing any debris created during installation and dismantle.
➤ Daily trash services and booth cleaning can be arranged through show management for a fee.
➤ There is a disposal fee for build-and-burn exhibits. It varies based on the show organizer, the size of your booth, and the materials being disposed.
➤ China's 3G network is still under construction.
➤ Check with your U.S. cell-phone provider to see if your phone and calling plan will work in China. If not, inexpensive temporary phones can be purchased at the Beijing airport.
➤ Smoking is not permitted in the larger exhibit halls, but most expo centers do have designated smoking areas outside.
➤ If you are at a smaller exhibit hall, it's wise to provide ashtrays in your exhibit if the venue allows on-floor smoking.
➤ Exhibitors do not need to pay royalties, but getting show management's approval to play music in your booth is recommended.
➤ Police: 110
➤ Fire: 119
➤ Medical: 120
➤ U.S. Embassy: 8531-3000
Greetings and Culture
➤ "The Chinese tend to be formal, so when speaking in English, say, "Hello," or, "Good morning," rather than simply, "Hi."
➤ Always address the most senior or highest ranking person among a group of people first, then proceed down the hierarchy.
➤ Present business cards with both hands. When handed a card, do not write on it or shove it in your pocket, as that is perceived as a sign of disrespect. Rather, accept it gratefully with both hands.
➤ Hospitality is not common in smaller exhibits, but companies with large exhibits typically serve some drinks and small snacks, often in a hospitality area specifically designed for entertaining clients.
➤ Common beverages include coffee, tea, juice, and other soft drinks. Snacks generally include sweets, cookies, and other finger foods.
➤ While there are no restrictions on hospitality, serving alcohol is not common in exhibits.
➤ Mandarin Chinese is the predominant language, but English is also widely spoken. Still, having a local translator in your booth who speaks Mandarin is essential.
➤ Use local translators since native Chinese will be most familiar with regional dialects of Mandarin.
➤ Print collateral, signage, and business cards in both English and Chinese. And print locally, as Chinese officials often review incoming print materials, which can cause delays.
➤ Since taxi drivers don't always speak English, carry a card with the address of your hotel in Mandarin.
➤ A suit or jacket is appropriate for both men and women, and dark clothing with dark shoes is generally preferred. When in doubt, err on the side of formality, as underdressed attendees may not be allowed in the exhibit hall.
➤ Women - especially tall women - should avoid wearing high heels so they do not tower over Asian men.
➤ Piercings and tattoos are generally seen as unprofessional and should be covered when exhibiting in Beijing.
General Facts and Tips
➤ Symbols in China can often baffle Westerners. For example, the colors red and gold represent power and fortune, while the number four or black text on a yellow background both represent death and should be avoided.
➤ When shipping, be aware of China's three national holidays, the Lunar New Year (which varies, but is usually in February), May Day (May 1), and National Day (Oct. 1). During these holidays, the entire country - not to mention customs - completely closes down.
➤ In China, the government controls many aspects of life. Visitors should be careful to not express anti-China (or pro-Taiwan) views, and religious talk should be kept to a minimum or avoided altogether.
➤ Always work with local agencies to handle trade show activities, as they will likely be able to negotiate better prices.
➤ Visitors to China need a visa and must register their residence, normally by giving the hotel a copy of their passport.
➤ Due to cultural reasons, the following items should not be used as promotional trade show giveaways: bells, clocks, sharp objects, or chrysanthemums.
Installation and Dismantle
➤ There are no unions in China that hold jurisdiction over exhibit-hall labor. Generally, workers are paid by the day (not the hour), and you are billed as one lump sum.
➤ Skilled labor is not readily available on site and should be organized in advance by your exhibit house. Pack any special assembly tools you may need with your booth.
➤ There typically is not a charge for drayage in Beijing.
➤ Power strips and extension cords are not allowed.
➤ You may be charged a small registration fee for each I&D worker. You might also incur a fee if your I&D crew works past normal business hours.
➤ Shipping to Beijing from the United States takes a minimum of three weeks for airfreight and eight weeks for ocean freight. Some items, such as food or military equipment, may experience longer delays.
➤ It is best to use the show's designated freight forwarder (or your preferred forwarder with special instructions from the show's forwarder). Your shipment will not clear customs if the paperwork is incorrect - including an accurate value of the shipped items.
Robert Campbell, vice president, Uniplan GmbH & Co. KG, Basel, Switzerland; Christopher Dorn, president, Idea International Inc., Tokyo; Jeffrey S. Hannah, president and CEO, Nuance International Inc., Lawrenceville, GA; Frank Liu, deputy general manager, Uniplan GmbH & Co. KG, Beijing; Lorraine Lorenzini, director of international account management, Freeman, Dallas; Matthew Pearce, president, Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia, Chatswood, NSW, Australia; Gino Pellegrini, president and design director, Inter-Global Exhibitions Group, Denver; Jeannine K. Swan, owner and president, Global Exhibit Management, Fort Worth, TX; Jori Wilmoth, manager of international services, Derse Inc., Milwaukee