Think China is the perfect country to skyrocket your career or set up a business? Careful! Some barriers, like language or the big role that personal relationships (guanxi) play, can be hard to overcome. That’s why a previous stay in the country sounds like a very good idea! Have you heard about the Chinese Government CSC (Chinese Scholarship Council) scholarships to study in China? When I discovered it I didn’t think twice, and have now spent the last two years in China!
China, the world’s biggest economy?
I completely understand why you are interested in China. With an average 10% annual GDP growth rate in the past 25 years China is the world’s second biggest economy. But hey! When taking into account the GDP in terms of Purchasing Parity Power (PPP), China is already the number one, having surpassed the US. And there’s more to come!
Although recently this growth has been slowing down, the Asian Giant accounting for one fifth of the world’s population is still rocking! With a current growth rate of 6-7%, much higher than the 1.5-3% growth rate of developed countries like the US or EU countries, China is going now for its final objective: becoming the world’s biggest economy.
Moreover, the shift of China’s economy from one based on low-tech manufacturing using low cost labour force, to one based on both high-tech products requiring high investments and services creates an interesting scenario with plenty of good career opportunities. No wonder you are interested!
Why to study in China?
Undoubtedly, China’s economic conditions are favourable to take your career to the next level. However, there are two factors that could seriously slow down the process: language (to be expected, right?) and personal relationships (guanxi).
In order to succeed in China you often need more than just a good idea. Not being as successful as expected is highly likely, no matter how good the ideas and intentions are. A kind of warm up period to learn and gain their approval is often needed.
What about going through this warm up period while simultaneously obtaining a university diploma? I can’t think of a better way! You’ll find yourself in the best place to learn both the language and the culture. As an added bonus, you’ll have free time to meet people and build your contact network. Finally, having a Chinese University degree can help you gain their approval, opening the door to better opportunities.
The first barrier: Language
Despite the big effort that is being done and the hordes of people that are coming to teach English, the country is still in a learning stage. That also applies to the business world.
Of course, the need to speak Chinese is even greater for daily life. Randomly pointing out some characters on the menu might be funny the first days but it’s not that funny when the taxi driver takes you to the opposite side of the city allegedly because he didn’t understand you properly. But the final challenge comes when you need to fight with your SIM card or Internet supplier… Forget about explaining your problem to them using English, it will have the same effect as explaining it in Russian. They are however, Masters when it comes to shouting “Hello!” to draw your attention so you buy their products. 😉
In order to do business in China you will sooner or later have to learn Mandarin, the National language. There are numerous Chinese dialects, almost as many as cities in China, but Mandarin (putonghua) is the official language spoken throughout the country, and therefore the language used when doing business. Not only is speaking good for communication purposes, but also as a sign of respect to build trust.
In any kind of business run by Chinese people, there will always be a “right-hand Chinese”. Being a “right-hand foreigner” is quite hard, so it’s better to start bridging those differences by showing signs of integration. Or at least let them see your good intentions!
The second barrier: the guanxi
The other barrier is the crucial role that personal relationships play in Chinese society. In most countries networking and having contacts is important, but in China they are of paramount importance. Building relationships, or guanxi, plays a key role at all levels. Having, or not having guanxi with the right person has a huge impact in your likelihood and speed of success.
Don’t think a phone call or a short visit to China are enough to get that guanxi! It is a broader concept, it’s all about building long term trust. Therefore, if you wish to succeed in China, you better think about spending some time over there, absorb its culture and meet a loooot of people.
A gift is the perfect ice-breaker, but be aware not to give A SINGLE bottle of wine. No matter the gift, it is much better to give it in pairs. Oh, and be careful not to give four of them! Chinese people are very superstitious, and the words “four” and “death” have very similar pronunciation. If you have low tolerance to alcohol, you better start practicing, good relationships are often built over a baijiu bottle (Chinese vodka, although they like to call it Chinese white wine).
The good news? Based on my experience, building this contact network is a less arduous task in China than in most Western countries. Of course, it’s not easy, it requires a lot of time and effort. However, there are plenty of opportunities to build those contacts with people holding a variety of positions by attending one of the many events that take place every month.
I’ve already seen several foreign students get invited to restricted events where they were able to meet with top management members of important companies/organizations and also with renowned University Professors. Don’t miss the opportunity!
Chinese Government Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) Scholarships
‘It sounds like a good idea to study in China, but… how can I afford it?’ Congratulations, it’s your lucky day! During the last few years the Chinese Government has been extending its Scholarship Program to many different countries and encouraging foreigners to study in China. It covers the tuition fee, accommodation, insurance and an allowance generous enough to cover all the living costs in China (3000 yuan monthly, around 420 euro, for Master students, 2500 for Bachelor students and 3500 for PhD students). It sounds good, right?
Yes, the scholarship applies to all university levels. It is possible to do Bachelor Degree studies (only in Chinese), as well as Master Degree and PhD studies (in English or Chinese). Moreover, a year-long Chinese course prior to the beginning of the studies is offered to all students (compulsory for Bachelor Degree students).
You can find more info about the scholarships by clicking on this link. You’ll also find info about scholarships for shorter periods (1 year or 6 months) like the Confucious Institute one to study the Chinese language. Those scholarships are also a good option for those not willing to spend a long time studying in China. It is important to note that the longer studies, the Master Degree ones, last about 2 to 3 years.
I am currently doing a 2-years-long MBA at Beijing Institute of Technology and all the Master Programs have a similar structure. All lectures and courses are held in the first year (mine were on weekends so Chinese students could have a full time job at the same time, but it is more common to have classes on weekdays). During the second year (and third in some cases) students must write a Thesis under a Professor’s supervision.
How to apply for a CSC scholarship to study in China?
The procedures to apply for a CSC (Chinese Scholarship Council) scholarship are quite simple. Firstly, you need to go to this website and click on “Application online for International Students”. Once on the CSC online application website, you must register and fill in your personal data, including the code of the University you’d like to apply for. Then the system will generate a form similar to this one:
**EDIT: Apparently, the previous link is not working anymore. Here’s the new one.**
Once you have downloaded the form, you’ll have to send it to the University you chose along with the rest of the documents required by that University (in my case: passport, CV, University diploma, English and/or Chinese certificates, reference letters, study plan and medical examination).
The application period depends on each University, bust most of the deadlines are around March/April (some Universities like Tsinghua or Beijing University have a previous application period which has a December deadline).
Where to study in China?
Apart from World renowned top level universities like Tsinghua or Beijing University, China has plenty of other good universities. Most of them are located in China’s capital city, Beijing, although there are good universities scattered around China as well.
Here is a list with some of Beijing’s most well known universities:
- Tsinghua University
- Beijing University
- Renmin University
- Beihang University
- Beijing Institute of Technology
- Beijing Normal University
- University of Science and Technology Beijing
- China Agricultural University
Some of the most well known universities outside Beijing are (from North to South):
- Harbin Institute of Technology (Harbin)
- Xi’an Jiaotong University (Xian)
- Nanjing University (Nanjing)
- University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei)
- Shanghai Jiaotong University (Shanghai)
- Fudan University (Shanghai)
- Tongji University (Shangai)
- Zhejiang University (Hangzhou)
That’s all from me, we’ve reached the end of the article. For those who think that your future and China’s might be linked, don’t miss this great opportunity to get ready for it, learn the Chinese language, China’s values and culture, build a solid contact network and, meanwhile, get a University diploma. That’s a pretty good plan!
If you liked the article and know people that might be interested, don’t hesitate to share it. We’ll be very, very thankful! Last but not least, in case you still have any questions, leave a comment and I will do my best to answer it!🙂