Last year I took my son with me to China on a business trip.
As we were walking the streets of Shanghai, a man approached us, pointed at my son, and then held out his camera to me. He wanted me to take a picture of him with my son.
Sean (my son) is at least 6′ 3″, 230 pounds; a caucasion of that size is probably something of a novelty there (although westerners visiting China is surely not).
In the U.S. if someone approached us with such a request we’d immediately put our guard up. “Who are you? What’s your motive? Is my picture going to end up on Facebook or on a bizarre website somewhere?”
In general I’ve found Chinese hospitality to be very accomodating. When I’m there, they bend over backwards to help and will often host a meal at no cost to the visitor. In fact there’s been many times where I offered to pay but they declined.
These people aren’t just my business associates, they’re my friends.
That’s what guanxi is all about. Doing business in China is all about relationships.