Much of the groundwork has been laid by the huge numbers of foreigners not only visiting China but actually living and working there. The result is that ‘western ways’ are not as alien as once was the case. However, status, respect and ‘face’ is still hugely important. Allow plenty of time travelling around Beijing’s traffic-clogged streets as punctuality is an important mark of respect.
All the international brands are in Beijing including a quartet of Shangri-La properties in the central business district to serve all business needs. But, for a new super cool luxury boutique hotel, Greek-owned Grace Hotels’ first Asia property in Beijing will take some beating. Formerly the Yi House Art Hotel and before that a glass factory, the Grace Beijing (www.gracebeijing.com) is in the renowned 798 Art District and offers 30 rooms, each with unique décor, a restaurant and Bar 798. Rates are around £140 per night.
Green T House Living (green-t-house.com) is so cool it’s the sort of place that has Wallpaper magazine enthusing. It’s a very large white, bright and airy building in spacious grounds in suburban Beijing. It’s a mix of tea ceremony, exceptional Chinese cuisine plus music, furniture and a retail outlet.
British Airways offers a daily departure from London Heathrow to Beijing Capital International Airport. Air China also operates a daily service departing LHR at 20.25 to reach Beijing at 13.30 next day. There are several one-stop options, including Qatar Airways via Doha, Air France via Paris, Finnair via Helsinki and Lufthansa via Frankfurt.
Pricey hotel limos can be pre-booked or there is a plentiful supply of taxis outside the terminal. The best alternative is the 17.5 mile Airport Express train which serves Terminals 2 and 3 in the airport together with Dongzhimen and Sanyuanqiao in the city. There are also several Airport Shuttle bus routes offering a number of Beijing drop-offs including Xidan / Beijing Railway Station / Gongzhufen / Fangzhuang / Zhongguancun / Wangjing and Beijing West Railway Station. Beijing’s traffic now rivals Bangkok’s for congestion so allow plenty of time for journeys by road.
Beijing is eight hours ahead of GMT. The currency is the Renminbi (RMB). UK citizens need a visa to enter the country. For more information on China and Beijing, visit www.cnto.org/aboutchina.asp
Infamous Tiananmen Square is just that, the world’s second largest square, but opposite is the exquisite Forbidden City which was the imperial palace from the Ming to the Qing Dynasty. It needs at least a day's exploration to do it any kind of justice. China's Great Wall is a day trip away from the city.
"Don’t get down to business! First-time business meetings in China require some ‘small talk’ to get to know one another, especially at a senior level. The time this takes loosely depends on the magnitude of the business in hand. With major projects it’s quite possible that no business at all will be discussed at the first meeting. And tell travellers not to forget the two-handed business card presentation."
Kuan Sng, Imperial Tours