Recently I have abundantly cited the Chinese Guanxi.

Wikipedia provides a definition of Guanxi: “it describes the basic dynamic in personalized networks of influence, and is a central idea in Chinese society.”

Guanxi is a combination of three elements: ganqing reflects the depth of feeling within an interpersonal relationship, renqing which is the moral obligation to maintain the relationship, and finally the concept of mianzi or keeping face, meaning social status and prestige.

Similar concepts of social capital exist in other cultures such as the Blat in Russian culture, Wasta in Middle Eastern culture, Sociolismo in Cuban culture, Old boy network, Dignitas in Roman culture.

Nevertheless having lived and worked in China for a few years, I can testify that Chinese clearly value relationships more than we would in Europe; where typically these connections are valued only if they lead to the resolution of a problem, for fear of a form of nepotism.

Having experienced both I would say that the Western permanent quest for efficiency leads to extreme situations where one would drop the local baker in favor of the better priced supermarket which ultimately destroys local value. Vice versa unquestioned favoritism may lead to a lesser value for money and a form of rigidity.

As usual the truth is in the balance, meanwhile forgive my romantic views on China, I simply love the country and its people.

Young Chinese


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