How can I deal with Chinese people, if they don't speak English?
Most export-oriented companies will have at least one person who can communicate in English. Speaking English is much harder for Chinese people because our education system stresses reading and writing. So if you have problems on the phone, talk slow and don't get upset. And then confirm everything by email later!
Are Chinese companies familiar with a Western way of doing business?
You should expect your Chinese supplier to deal with you in a prompt, professional, efficient way. In that sense, Chinese business functions the same way as it should everywhere. But if you expect Chinese companies to follow your systems, don't be too disappointed when they tell you "yes" and then completely ignore you!
Can I trust a supplier in China?
China is the same as every other country in the world - there are always a few people who are out to cheat you. But actually when it comes to business the Chinese people have an honest attitude. If you approach your deals in a careful, organised, honest way, you will have little to fear because the Chinese companies will be happy to establish a good long term relationship with a good customer.
Can Chinese suppliers really deal with me successfully?
There are all sorts of suppliers in China - big / small; factory / distributor; specialist / general.... When you are starting out with your China importing, you will find a lot of people who can't give you what you need. Don't give up - soon you will find some great business partners, whatever you're importing, and then you'll wonder why you waited so long to "get into China".
How do I know if Chinese factories and distributors are modern and professional enough to supply my needs?
Basically, you have to test each supplier with samples and small orders before you proceed with large quantities. Don't rely on sales pitches or brands - just rely on what you can see and how successfully your orders are getting fulfilled.
Are Chinese suppliers actually allowed to export to my country?
There are some complex regulations about export licences in China, but don't worry, these will be already be taken care of by the Chinese companies, otherwise they wouldn't be advertising to export in the first place (hopefully). What you should be thinking about is - "am I allowed to import this product in these quantities to this country?" and that information is for you to find out yourself!