Resilience: the intricacies of Chinese supply chains


As the world’s largest exporter and global manufacturing hub, China plays a critical role in international supply chains – particularly within ‘complex product’ sectors like the automotive. However, this extensive capability and capacity comes with unique challenges. As events of the past few years have indicated, the success and viability of Chinese supply chains are far from guaranteed. When tight timescales and production are at risk, having a team on the ground can make all the difference.

Local expertise adds resilience

One of the key benefits of having access to a team in China is the invaluable local expertise. This knowledge can be instrumental in overcoming cultural, regulatory, and communication barriers. Understanding the unique requirements and idiosyncrasies can be challenging for those not accustomed, leading to lagged responses addressing critical supply chain issues.

Consider, for example, the impact of the Chinese New Year on international supply chains. In an urgent logistics situation, an on-the-ground team will be well-versed in the disruptions that come with this period, enabling swift transitions to alternate arrangements. In the same vein, such teams can better identify – and respond to – regional bottlenecks. An understanding of which ports and airports offer the best solution at a moment’s notice ensures optimised emergency logistics.

Ever-changing regulatory environment

Anyone involved in Chinese supply chains can attest that the regulatory landscape is constantly shifting and evolving. From introducing the 2020 Export Control Law to the 2023 increase in export tariffs, ensuring compliance and aligning within China’s bureaucratic systems can pose significant challenges for reliant companies. This complexity is made substantially more significant for time-sensitive deliveries.

Working with an on-the-ground team can help companies remain informed of any regulation or compliance changes, rapidly delivering solutions when it matters most. When every second counts, smoothly navigating the export process while remaining compliant with up-to-date regulations is a substantial advantage that minimises the risk of delays.

Stronger supplier relationships

Building and maintaining solid relationships with suppliers and local logistics organisations can prove decisive in a crisis. Bridging cultural and language gaps, ensuring effective communication, and developing professional partnerships can be the difference between a successful emergency shipment and a disruptive shutdown.

We saw this repeatedly during the pandemic when supply chains were stretched to breaking point, and even emergency solutions were challenging to deliver. Local relationships with regional freight providers improved the likelihood of successful outcomes, while familiarity with the suppliers improved efficiency and understanding, leading to the faster provision of emergency logistics.

If you want to learn more about our work in China, please get in touch with our team:

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