Legal Translation for Doing Business in China

Translating English Documents to Simplified Chinese

We’ve blogged about the importance of English to Chinese translation services China’s real estate market and Chinese translations for international retailers in China. China is a growing economy that provides immense business opportunities for multi-national companies.  There is no question that China is one of the fastest growing economies presently in the world, with over a billion consumers waiting for the “next best thing” in products and services. That said, China presents a unique set of challenges for businesses.  In many respects, China is still currently forming the rules and regulations to support the business activity in the country. This justifies the ongoing and growing need for English to Chinese legal translation services and for English to Mandarin legal interpreters.

With that in mind it is important to keep a close eye on China and its legal developments to maximize the opportunities for your multi-national company and minimize any unknown legal pitfalls.

This article will provide a snapshot look at the requirements for doing business in China currently, so that you can gauge whether your company is on the right path in China.  In addition, this article will also discuss the importance of high-quality, reliable, professional English to Chinese translation services.  One thing you need to keep in mind for all of the work you do, all of the products or services you provide, and all of the marketing you do in the country, is that your product and services content, all your legal agreements and contracts need to be translated properly from English to Simplified Chinese.

All too often companies provide marvelous products or services.  Yet, poor translations will harm a company’s efforts time and again.  One of the worst examples, of course, is the translation of KFC’s famous “finger lickin’ good” slogan.  Translated into Chinese, KFC’s phrase became a horrifying “We’ll eat your fingers off.”  The translation was as tragic for the product, as it was funny for business-watchers throughout Asia.

So, let us begin with a few things to keep in mind when doing business in China.

What are Foreign Investment Rules in China?

In China, foreign investment is classified into four categories:  encouraged, restricted, prohibited, and permitted.  The way to learn which category applies to your investment is to review the Catalogue of Industries for Guiding Foreign Investment.  The Catalogue is created by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

Here are some examples from the Catalogue:

Encouraged.  China encourages approximately 348 industries, including:

  • Fruit and vegetable drinks
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Software product development

Restricted.  China subjects about 21 industries to certain restrictions, including:

  • Domestic water transportation
  • Construction and operation of civil airports
  • Insurance and securities companies

Prohibited.  Approximately 27 industries are not open to foreign investment at all, including:

  • Air traffic control
  • Postal companies
  • Consulting on Chinese legal affairs

Permitted.  Generally, the investments that do not fall within any of the other three categories above are permitted.

The Catalogue was recently updated.  The most recent Catalogue:

  • Lists companies on a “negative list” which actually permits them to conduct foreign investment, subject only to record-filing online.
  • Lists industries subject to “special administrative measures for the access of foreign investments” which must be approved by the MOC.
  • Reduced the number of restricted or prohibited industry categories from 63 to 48. One example, the design, manufacturing, and repair of civil aircrafts has been removed from the list of restricted industries.

Is China’s Legal System Based on Civil Law or Common Law?

China is a civil law jurisdiction.  That means that the law comes from statutes, rules, and regulations.  Unlike in the United States, common law – law that is derived from decided cases – has no precedential value in China.  Also, unlike the United States, China does not have a federal system.  Thus, lower courts are not mandated to follow the rulings of the Supreme Court of China.  In practice, however, the rulings of the Supreme Court of China are generally followed.

How Do You Form a Legal Business Entity in China?

Wholly foreign-owned enterprises (WFOEs) must be registered with the following Chinese authorities:

  • The Ministry of Commerce;
  • The National Development and Reform Commission;
  • The State Administration for Industry and Commerce;
  • Local authorities.

Translate English Documents to Mandarin Chinese

All of the registrations, foreign investment paperwork, and legal matters need to be read and understood in the various provinces of China to properly conduct business in China.

It is essential to ensure that English documents from business proposals and contracts, to marketing materials are translated into Simplified Chinese in a way that is understandable and captures the spirit of content.  That kind of knowledge only comes from top-notch, professional legal translators who specialize in translating English legal documents to Simplified Chinese and in providing English to Mandarin Chinese in-person and phone interpreters for depositions, Mandarin translators for international arbitration, and business meetings.

Accordingly, we invite you to call us at All Language Alliance, Inc.  We are a premier legal translation service that can help you grow your business into China.  Call us today at 303-470-9555 to inquire about our Chinese document translation services and Mandarin interpreting services.

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