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Personal influence because of connections, networking, and reputation; the karmic principle made manifest within one lifetime. Sometimes perceived as corruption or currying favor, but not generally thought of that way in China (I think).

In China, the intricate formal structures of government and business are supplemented by guanxi. When the deck is stacked against you, there are often informal ways to accomplish your goals. Guanxi acts as part of Chinese society's checks and balances.

Disclaimer: I did a quick Google search and synthesized what I read on half a dozen pages. I could be talking out my ass, so I'm looking forward to a better writeup.)

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