Guanxi: The China Letter grew out of our need to understand China and work with Chinese partners. As we spoke to colleagues in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere around the globe, it became clear that we were not alone. Small and large businesses alike were grappling with the question of how China would affect their industry. Individuals wondered if China was a threat to their way of life and their futures, or an opportunity of unprecedented scale. Guanxi has been designed to provide graduate-school-level coverage of China that will make up for the scant attention paid to it in our educational systems. Readers will get tips on learning the language along with concise, expert coverage of current issues and related historical background.

Our aim is to help readers see the world from a Chinese perspective. We call upon old China hands, experts who have worked for decades in China and with Chinese colleagues. They share a passionate desire to build connections and understanding, whether the subject is education or manufacturing or technology.

In addition to its regular columns, every issue has a topical theme and an editorial focus on some aspect of understanding China in the world today. This issue is geopolitical, emphasizing China’s physical position in the world and the challenges that result from bordering fourteen countries and having a population of 1.2 billion.

Our next issue examines the rise of Chinese education, and the editorial focus is on Chinese values (another source of China’s strength and influence, our authors argue). Issue 3, about the upcoming Beijing Olympics, includes a variety of articles touching on public image and on the role of the media in shaping how people see China and its role in the world.

Guanxi (pronounced, gwon-she), usually translated as “networks” or “connections,” is essential to doing business in China. The term has kinship such terms as social capital and affective networks, but has a more complex meaning that we’ll be teasing out in every issue.

The Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This inaugural issue of Guanxi: The China Letter is that first step. Many voices, of old China hands and new ones, will join us along the path, and we encourage you to become part of a community of people who know that a prosperous, peaceful future depends on deeper knowledge and the connections we call guanxi.

Source: Christensen, Karen. (2006). Publisher’s note. Guanxi: The China Letter, 1, 2.