On the 23rd of February, 2010,
we made Chinese business

Chinese Business

This drawing is loosely related to a manifesto for the Chinese business world, with 22 rules of conduct, as found in a frame behind the desk of a businessman in Zhejiang.

The drawing rules are based on concepts of fair distribution, mutual benefit, keeping middle ground and the impact of (good) relationships.

The spread is developed for Items issue #2 2010.

Read the full zhejiang businessman manifesto.


Each player represents a business and has his/her own color: blue, red, green and black.
A subsidiary is indicated by a dot (ca. 5 mm diameter)
A deal is indicated by encircling a subsidiary (ca. 3 mm width).

Businesses want to grow. Their growth is indicated by the amount of deals their subsidiaries are involved in and the amount of their ability to start new subsidiaries. A subsidiary occupies more space with each deal. The proximity between two subsidiaries determines whether a deal may be pursued.


Play in turns. In the first round each player positions his first subsidiary on the sheet. During each turn a deal must be pursued, unless the business owner can start a new subsidiary.


A deal must be pursued with the closest subsidiary of another business.
The distance is measured between the outer rings of the subsidiaries.
A deal may only be pursued if there is a direct line of sight between the two cores of the subsidiaries.
A deal may only be pursued with a subsidiary if you haven't dealt with it before or after the other businesses owners have all dealt with it since your last deal.


Whenever a subsidiary has completed a succession of deals with every other business owner, the owner may start a new subsidiary. (This can happen more than once.)
A new subsidiary can also be started if a business owner can’t pursue a deal.

Tip: In positioning the subsidiaries one has to balance between being close enough to other subsidiaries for making deals and keeping enough distance for future growth.

Business stagnation

A subsidiary is allowed to grow until it makes contact with another subsidiary.
If a big subsidiary reaches a smaller subsidiary it can incorporate it, under the condition that the deal (encircling color) works for both businesses.

A selection of related rules from the Zhejiang businessman’s bible:

(4) Never put all your eggs in one basket. No matter how confident you are, always plan for the worst and hope for the best.

(7) Be very careful about your business partner(s). Never take on a partner you have known and worked with for less than a year. Only take on partners who live by their word, are honest and loyal. Mutual benefit is the key to any successful long term business relationship. If you want good partners you have to be a good partner, in good times and bad.

(13) Don’t get involved in political conflicts, always try to remain neutral. It’s never a wise decision to pin all of your hope on one side.

(17) Learn from other businessmen and case models in China, foreign ones like Microsoft and IBM are not practical or meaningful to you.

We came accross these dubious rules via an article in the Stuttgarter Zeitung, december 09.