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Experience in China?

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Chris Dolan
Experience in China?
on Jun 28, 2010 at 1:40:48 pm

Anyone here have experience conducting business in China? Specifically; legal recourse (don't laugh) in collecting payment?

I performed freelance services for CTVS in Beijng for coverage of the Auto China event. They're approaching 30 days past due on an invoice I submitted May 6th, payable within 30 days. I've contacted them a couple of times to inquire and they keep telling me they're waiting for the client to pay them.

I can believe they are telling me the truth because I know it happens with larger companies, but I'd like to know what legal options are available.

Anyone with experience please chime in!


Chris Dolan

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Bob Bonniol
Re: Experience in China?
on Jul 13, 2010 at 8:46:31 pm

Oh man... Well... I've done a TON of business in China. It bears knowing that holding out on paying is actually regarded as a virtue among some business folks over there (no lie). I learned that to do business effectively there it was really beneficial to operate in a joint venture with somebody with experience on the mainland (say a Taiwanese production company, or a company from Hong Kong). They can serve as the bridge, and help ensure that business moves a little closer to the 'western' expectation.

You are post gig, so that is advice for the future. My advice for now is to use all the techniques you might find recommended here for any potential 'grinder'. Steady, persistent pressure. Frequent check ins... Stay with it. And good luck.

I now demand (and get) full payment upfront before deliverables are in the clients hands. This was my policy for everything I did for the Olympic games, and numerous other projects over there.

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Chris Dolan
Re: Experience in China?
on Jul 14, 2010 at 8:05:45 am

Thanks for the input Bob!

I've been applying steady pressure via emails and phone calls and even a friendly personal visit last week to "say hi" and check on payment status. I'm not getting nasty yet because I want to give them the benefit of the doubt (they're all nice people) and would like to maintain a relationship with them for future work. It's not a Chinese company so I don't think they practice the 'holding out on payment is a virtue' philosophy.

So what kind of responses did you typically get when you mandated full payment in advance? Did you have contracts? I hear contracts in China aren't worth the paper on which they're written.

I had one (partially) paid job a couple of months ago which was a cash (half) payment at the end of the first day of shooting. The second half (yet to be paid) is supposedly coming when they get paid by their client. It's a bit discouraging because not many people want to hire an unknown...and to make matters worse; one who requires full payment or a deposit up front.

I have begun partnering (sort of) with a couple of western producers who have been living/ working here for a while. I'm hoping to learn some typical business practices from them and find more paid work as a result.

Chris Dolan

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