Chinese Bureaucrats Are VERY Particular About Their Ink

Found this while net stumbling and it seemed worth a quick share.

There’s one thing you really need to know if you ever plan to do business in China.

Choose your pen carefully.

Image from China Source Link

Foreigners who want to do business in China without local partners often have to create an investment entity called a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise. To do that, you have to submit an application to the Chinese Administration for Industry and Commerce.

And the application is a beast.

From the China Law Blog.

To form a WFOE in China, you typically need around 25 documents, 33 originals, 594 signatures (18 times the 33 originals) and 297 seals (9 times the 33 originals).  Fun stuff, let me tell you.

All pages have to be A4 and nothing but A4.

But the really tricky part is getting the ink right.

China Law Blog explains:

All signatures must be made with a fine point rollerball pen using water-based ink, such as a Uniball, or a fountain pen. Do not use a thick ballpoint pen or a pen with oil-based ink. Sign in BLACK INK ONLY.

Use the wrong kind of pen or the wrong ink, even if it looks just the same, and the application will be rejected. All 594 signatures will have to be rewritten.

Black ink, I understand, although they apparently will reject blue-black or certain shades that aren’t black enough. But the water-based requirement seems odd. Wouldn’t that be the least secure way to sign a document?

Uni Ball UB200 Black


Come to think of it, not sure that Uniballs would even meet that requirement. While the Vision Elites use a liquid ink, it’s still not water-based.

Anyway, kind of extreme, don’t you think?

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Tony Bridges

As a seasoned journalist and freelance writer, I've spent over three decades telling stories and exploring the world through the written word. With a passion for writing instruments, I found my niche at The Pen Vibe, a blog that shares our collective fascination with pens, pencils, and other tools that have shaped the art of writing.

2 thoughts on “Chinese Bureaucrats Are VERY Particular About Their Ink”

  1. It’s quite odd, but I have also seen forms rejected in the UK because of small issues (there weren’t 594 signatures involved though).
    Personally I prefer blue to fill in forms, if allowed, as it makes it so much easier to recognise what information is part of the form and what has been filled in.

  2. That’s really, really specific. I wonder why they have the water-based requirement myself. And why fine-point? Personally, I prefer fine point anyway, but it’s a little odd to specify it. (And what happens if you have a wet-writing pen that has a fine nib but writes with a wider line? My Kaweco F nib can be pretty close to M with some inks…)


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