Many books about China says: “Guanxi is important in China”. Many people do research based on the books. Many foreigners know Guanxi is important in China.
The problem is, it is a little bit out of date today.
Guanxi is important, but no longer the ONLY key
Guanxi or relationship was very important, and is still very important in today’s China society. However, the importance of this factor is degraded based on my observation. It is just like “Hukou is important, and is still important, but not as important as before”.
Before, when there are no market rules, many things are controlled in the hands of the key person. Since everything belongs to a “virtual” country, the factor of a person is the most important factor.
However, these days, especially in large cities in Shanghai, or Beijing, many decisions are now business decisions, and there are clear owners (just like most countries in the world), the role of Guanxi start to fade out.
I want to make it clear that I am not saying relationship is not important in China any more. It is still more important in decisions than many other countries. What I am saying is, it is not as important as many books described 10 or 20 years ago.