When you're purchasing products from a Chinese company, you need to be very aware of one key issue: is it a Chinese manufacturer or a Chinese trading company?
First of all, why this is important to you? Well, it is already difficult to assess the factory that will manufacture your product. If your counterpart is a trading company, it becomes even harder to hold the entity liable in the case of defective products. While on the other hand, it is much easier for the trading company to 'disappear' or otherwise evade communication. So, what you should be doing next?
Viewing the China Company's Business License and Registration Records
The first step is to ask for a copy of the China company's business license. The business license specifies the 'Business Scope' (经营范围 – Jīngyíng Fànwéi) of the company, which lists all of the products or services it is officially permitted to offer.
Of course if your Chinese counterpart intends to cheat on you, they might be very alert when you request the business license, and they might even provide a fake one.
In either case, the next step is to view the company's registration record. Since 2006, these have been made available online to the general public by the AIC (Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau, 工商行政管理局, Gōngshāng Xíngzhèng Guǎnlǐjú) for each province of China.
You need to identify which province the company is registered in, find the AIC website for that province, and then use the company's registered Chinese name to search for their record. You can then use this public record to corroborate the information shown on the business license, or to check a company's category (trading company or manufacturer) without them knowing.
Following this process will identify if they are indeed a China trading company. But note that this process must be done in Chinese, because Chinese is the only official language of mainland China.
If you'd like a convenient, streamlined way to have this process completed for you, you might consider a China Checkup Company Verification report. We use our expertise and knowledge to research a Chinese company you're interested in, including translating and explaining their public registration record, plus other information you'll find useful in assessing them.