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n. (In the context of Chinese society) connections; relationships; one's social or business network.


Guanxi or Guanshi describes the basic dynamic in personalized networks of influence (which can be best described as the relationships individuals cultivate with other individuals) and is a central idea in Chinese society. In Western media, the pinyin romanization of this Chinese word is becoming more widely used instead of the two common translations of it—"connections" and "relationships"—as neither of those terms sufficiently reflects the wide cultural implications that guanxi describes.

Guanxi largely originates from the Chinese social philosophy of Confucianism, which stresses the importance of associating oneself with others in a hierarchical manner, in order to maintain social and economic order. Particularly, there is an emphasis on implicit mutual obligations, reciprocity, and trust, which are the foundations of guanxi and guanxi networks.

Guanxi also has a major influence on the management of businesses based in China, and businesses owned by overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia (the latter is known as the bamboo network).

Closely related concepts include that of ganqing, a measure which reflects the depth of feeling within an interpersonal relationship, renqing ( rénqíng/jen-ch'ing), the moral obligation to maintain a relationship, and the idea of " face" (, miànzi/mien-tzu), which refers to social status, propriety, prestige, or a combination of all three. Other related concepts include wu-lune, which supports the idea of a long term, developing relationship between a business and its client, and yi-ren and ren, which respectively support reciprocity and empathy.

Usage examples of "guanxi".

The Dowager Empress venture had been risky, he had known that, but the profit involved was stratospheric, plus there would be enormous guanxi, because the cargo was connected to the illustrious Wei Gaofan himself, a longtime powerful member of the Standing Committee.

Feng’s guanxi sometimes appeared to be greater than Yu’s own, and it could make him impudent.