Running Background Checks On Chinese Companies

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Aug. 19 – Our affiliated consulting practice, Dezan Shira & Associates is regularly asked to provide basic information on businesses in China, often just to establish that the pertinent company exists and is a genuine business. Unfortunately, over the years many scams have occurred where Chinese companies have obtained goods from businesses overseas and not made payment, or valuable orders have been placed with part payment in advance, only for nothing to be received when the order is due to be shipped. Much of the problem lies in that there is a lack of a sufficient and reliable centralized public records office in China, coupled with the language barriers making it somewhat difficult to obtain readily available information. While about half of Dezan Shira & Associates’ client base comes from North America, the firm also receives a lot of these types of general enquiries concerning the validation of Chinese businesses from Indian businesses, which are increasingly engaging with and conducting trade with China.

Obtaining reliable information therefore on Chinese businesses is not that easy. Nor, as has been suggested on a China blog elsewhere, is Google an answer, as the search engine is unstable and subject to intermittent blackouts in China, resulting in a reduced capability for searching in Chinese. Baidu is in fact the preferred search engine in China, not Google, and in any event search engines are unlikely to provide the specific types of information a businessman is going to want to know about a company in the PRC. Using search engines to conduct research may be free, but it is neither reliable nor professional enough of a resource to get to the real story or provide verifiable information to a client business requiring hard facts.

We have run articles on conducting due diligence in China many times before, including a detailed look at examining a Chinese business license here, and a comprehensive report on China due diligence here.

However, we get asked so many times for information on China-based companies that Dezan Shira & Associates have been able to develop a specific service to address the issue. Such services require sound relations with various authorities in China, which the practice has built up after nearly 20 years practicing in the country. A standard level enquiry concerning Chinese companies will include the following:

  • Collecting all information regarding the registration of the company;
  • Collecting accessible information about the history of the company (including the original IPO date, owners and development, if the target is listed);
  • Review and collecting information about shareholders;
  • Review and analyze the structure of the management and main leaders (legal representative, general manager);
  • Analysis of the company structure;
  • Provide information about the company’s banking relationships;
  • Provide information about the company’s business relations;
  • Provide information about the company’s affiliates (if any);
  • Provide information about the company’s investments;
  • Provide financial statement and analysis of the financial status of the company for the last three years.

That is normally enough for most enquiries, and interestingly, the service is not that expensive. Dezan Shira & Associates Senior Legal Associate in Beijing, Richard Hoffmann usually handles such enquiries and may be contacted at

However, for more detailed analysis, additional data can be provided as follows:

  • Analysis of the business scope and activity within it;
  • Analysis of the operational development since the company’s incorporation;
  • Provide financial statements and analysis of the financial status for the last eight years

While other materials may also be provided upon request, such as copies of the:

  1. Business license
  2. Certificate of approval (only for FIE)
  3. Capital verification report confirming payment of the company’s registered capital
  4. Articles of association
  5. Board resolutions made that change the company’s information
  6. Any modification to the company’s registered information (registered capital increasing or decreasing, shareholding transfer, M&A, and so on)
  7. Annual inspection result of the company
  8. Directors’ registered personal information

As stated, such information remains confidential and requires an established presence in China to obtain. However, armed with services such as these, and the complimentary advice provided in the links above, sourcing data on the validity of China-based buyers, or sellers requiring credit terms, should no longer be an issue. The information, and the expertise in obtaining it, is available for firms with a strong China presence.

Related Reading

China Due Diligence You Can Conduct Yourself

China Operational Due Diligence

Analyzing Chinese Financial Reporting

2 thoughts on “Running Background Checks On Chinese Companies

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    I’ve noticed another blog on China law suggest that using search engines may be enough for conducting due diligence. Using Google as a due diligence tool in China is a dumb idea. It’s a search engine, not a professional resource, and anyway is hardly active in China, most people use Baidu. Search engines may be free, which is about the only benefit, but using professional tools as outlined above is an option for a good reason – it’s third party professionally reviewed advice, and is gained from extensive experience in China. Emerging markets are always ones in which you get what you pay for – and if wanting to do credible business with less risk in China, running checks from professionals based in country is always going to be a better option. Costs run into just a few hundred dollars, so the expense in terms of risk exposure is well worth it for professional buyers from China or those wanting to check Chinese companies ability to honor credit terms. It’s sensible, and is a preferable option to not doing any due diligence. That often ends in tears, not matter how good the deal sounds. As always, the truth is out there, and is available. – Chris

    Vicky says:

    As Christ stated above, it’s best to leave these matters to the professionals, because they might have resources and access to databases more extensive than what a simple search engine query might turn out.

    Most of these background checks are used to avoid costly hiring of unqualified people in delicate job positions.

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