Asian Absolute obtained WOFE status in China on 27 April 2006, making the fast-growing company the first London translation agency to obtain WOFE status in the PRC. As a Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprise, Asian Absolute China now has extended freedoms to develop a client base in China. This sets it in contrast to many Western companies who operate in China with representative office status, which is more limited in its scope.

A WOFE is a limited liability company wholly owned by a foreign investor. Originally introduced to encourage export-oriented manufacturing and technology development, the WOFE has been used increasingly by service providers since relaxation of regulations after China’s WTO ascension. In order to obtain WOFE status, Asian Absolute had to demonstrate its suitability to the Chinese authorities against a range of criteria. The administrative process took several months and was painstakingly detailed; Asian Absolute was required to submit company accounts and other official information, as well as profiles and photographs of involved staff.

Among other things, a foreign company applying for WOFE status must provide a valid Chinese trading name. Asian Absolute uses four characters which suggest knowledge and expertise across the Asian continent, one of which is the character for ‘Asia’ which forms the basis of the company’s logo.

Asian Absolute’s structure and service line-up place it in a unique position in the Chinese market. The company imparts a quintessentially British company ethos, most of the staff having studied or worked in Britain or trained with Asian Absolute London. The ability to provide professional translations from Chinese into English using native speakers, in high demand from Western financial services and law firms, is one of the factors that distinguish Asian Absolute from local companies. At the same time, the strong focus on quality shared by the teams of Chinese editors and designers is reshaping expectations of what can be achieved from Chinese communications in the domestic market. Further, with its line-up of Japanese, Korean and South East Asian communications services, Asian Absolute opens up interesting possibilities for many multinational companies looking to coordinate high profile Asia campaigns through a China presence.

As a chairman Henry Clough reflects “It is pleasing that Asian Absolute has been one of the first British agencies to move to WOFE status. We have been amazed by the positive reception we have received from new clients in China, both Chinese and foreign, which has confirmed that our commitment to quality fills a major gap in the market.”