More Red Tape Than a Communist Christmas Party

Chinese moneyIs anyone seeing a theme here?
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/madaboutshanghai/

I knew when I decided to register a business in China that I would have to deal with way more than your average amount of red tape, but somehow I had imagined that once I received my business licence (which I finally did in December), that would be the end of most of the trouble. I was wrong. Very. Wrong.

After spending almost 3 months to make a simple transfer of the start-up capital from my bank in Australia to my bank in China (neither of whom ever wanted to talk to eachother, or listen to me, but were happy to just keep on pumping me for fees and telling why they couldn’t do A, B or C), I finally made headway at the bank when the money actually arrived in my account.

That joy was very short-lived once the confusion about how to withdraw money from my account in China began. Certainly, it didn’t help that I forgot the word for “cheque” in Chinese, and was baffled when they kept telling me I had to buy some “paper tickets” to withdraw money. It turns out you have to write yourself a cheque, and additionally that has to be in Chinese (Problem #1) and the figures have to be written in traditional Chinese (the old complicated style which makes it harder for people to change the numbers later) (Problem #2) and the bank staff themselves weren’t allowed to write the cheque for me (Problem #3).

Up until now, I’d almost boasted about the fact that I couldn’t really read or write any Chinese characters, but I could get along fine in everyday life, and actually really had no need or desire to learn. That had come back to bite me in a big way, and I finally felt what it must be like to be illiterate.

Finally, after much discussion, the bank agreed that the customer service lady could help me write the cheque (thank you, how kind!?) and I thought I was home free.

China has a long tradition of using chops (essentially stamps, usually with sticky, red ink) as opposed to people signing their names. I now have 5 separate chops for my company and very little idea of what they’re for and when to use each one. It turned out that my cheque required stamping with the same two chops on both sides, but because they’re old-style stamps they need to be used with an ink-pad (rather than being self-inking and quick dry). I had to spend about 10 minutes sitting in the bank waving the cheque around so it would dry on one side so I could then stamp the other side.

Finally, all stamping finished and dry, I went to tear the cheque out of the cheque book to hand it over to the teller. But wait, the cheque book was not perforated between the cheque and the stub. Oh, of course not! They had actually bothered to even print a “tear” line on the cheque, but for some perplexing reason had never followed through with perforating it.

  • Share/Bookmark
Posted in China Business Registration Hilarity, Life as an alien and tagged , , , . Follow comments here (RSS). Comment or leave a trackback.

Post a Comment

Your email will not be published or shared. Required fields are marked *