When private clubs first started popping up in China, they attracted a mostly foreign membership. This, however, is changing. Many clubs now include well-heeled Chinese who have worked or studied abroad and are now joining the ranks of the private club elite.

As for community organizations and other social networks, check with your embassy in Beijing for social groups and events. Many of the embassies here are quite active with their social calendars.

Expat groups

Australia and New Zealand Association: ANZA provides opportunities for social support and networking for Australians and New Zealanders in Beijing.

AustCham Kooka Networking: Connect with the Australian community in Beijing at their meetings every Thursday evening at 6:30 pm. http://www.austcham.org

French Cultural Centre: A public library, reading club, movie theater, and cafe, the French Cultural Centre also offers French language classes. Library membership (RMB 200 per year) gives you unlimited access to over 20,000 French books, CDs and DVDs. 6 Gongti Xilu, Chaoyang District. (6553 2627 http://www.institutfrancais-chine.com

Instituto Cervantes: This is the Beijing location of a network of Spanish cultural centers that offer language classes, art and theater salons along with other activities. The Instituto Cervantes regularly features lectures and movies. (5879 9666) http://pekin.cervantes.es

Business and Professional Organizations

Chambers of Commerce

The American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China
Address: China Resources Building, Suite 1903, No. 8 Jianguomenbei Ave, Beijing 100005
Tel: (8610) 8519-1920
Website: http://www.amchamchina.org

European Union Chamber of Commerce
Address: Beijing Lufthansa Center, Office C-412, 50 Liangmaqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100016
Tel: (8610) 6462-2066
Website: http://www.europeanchamber.com.cn

Canada China Business Council
Address: Suite 18-2, CITIC Building, 19 Jianguomenwai Street, Beijing 100004
Tel: (8610) 8526-1820/21/22
Email: ccbcbj@ccbc.com.cn
Website: http://www.ccbc.com

Australia Chamber of Commerce in China
Address: E floor, Office Tower, Beijing Hong Kong Macau Centre (Swissotel),
2 Chaoyangmenbei Dajie, Beijing 100027
Tel: (8610) 6595-9252
Email: dalwyn.bateson@austcham.org
Website: http://www.austcham.org

French Chamber of Commerce in China
Address: Novotel Xinqiao Beijing, Area B, 6th Floor, 2 Dongjiaominxiang, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100004
Tel: (8610) 6512-1740
Email: ccifc-beijing@ccifc.org
Website: http://www.ccifc.org

Germany Industry and Commerce
Address: Landmark Tower 2, Unit 0811, 8 North Dongsanhuan Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100004
Tel: (8610) 6590-6151
Email: info@bj.china.ahk.de
Website: http://china.ahk.de

China-Italy Chamber of Commerce
Address: Unit 2607, Full Tower, 9, Dong San Huan Zhong Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100020
Tel: (8610) 8591-0545
Email: info@cameraitacina.com
Website: http://www.cameraitacina.com

The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China
Address: Room 104, Floor 1, Chang Fu Gong Building, 26 Jianguomenwai Street, Beijing 100022
Tel: (8610) 6513-0829, 6513-0839
Email: cjcci@postbj.net
Website: http://www.cjcci.biz/public_html/index.html

Professional Organizations

  • FC Club (Fortune Connection Club): One of China’s oldest networking organizations to serve the Beijing and Shanghai communities, this group holds monthly networking evenings themed by the industry that bring together people from across the business spectrum. Headhunters, IT professionals, media reps, and those in finance will all find Fortune Connection Club meetings to be prime hunting grounds for new guanxi, especially with Chinese professionals.  Email: fcclub.beijing@gmail.com

Private Clubs

Beijing Hockey Jockey Club: Its name is a little misleading – unlike its award-winning Hong Kong parent, it has no equestrian facilities and is essentially a boutique hotel and private dining experience, offering 90 luxurious guest rooms that overlook the garden courtyard and neighboring hutongs as well as a selection of sophisticated restaurants. Includes access to Jockey Club’s exclusive branded store, Levade, named after a specific — and extremely difficult — dressage maneuver. Gifts on sale here rival any offered by the city’s designer stores. http://www.hkjc.com.cn

Members: Currently 200, with a capacity for 3,000

Membership Process: a) Self-recommendation, b) recommendation from a Hong Kong or mainland member, c) recommendation from managers of the Hong Kong Jockey Club or the Beijing Hong Kong Jockey Club Clubhouse

Membership Cost: RMB 250,000 entrance fee in addition to RMB 1,500/month

The China Club: The China Club Beijing opened in 1996. Dating back to the Qing Dynasty, the four main and several smaller courtyards were used by royal descendants of Emperor Kangxi. Located off a quiet hutong close to Tian’anmen Square, each of its 14 private dining rooms is named after a dynasty. Some also carry their own nicknames; most notably the Deng Xiaoping Room. The space also holds the popular Long March Bar, where ancient Chinese literature texts line an entire wall, and which members insisted remain unchanged during a recent bout of renovations. During the 2008 Olympics, the entire 10,000 sqm space was transformed into the Omega Residence, catering to a host of celebrities linked to the Swiss watchmaker. Supermodel Cindy Crawford stayed in the Deng Xiaoping room, which also has a private courtyard and full en-suite bathroom.

Members: 1,600

Membership Process: a) By invitation of the club, b) referral by two existing members, with all members needing the approval of the board.

Membership Cost: Available upon request

Country Clubs

Capital Club: The Capital Club was conceived, organized, and designed as a prestigious private club for the senior business community. It was founded as a joint venture between CITIC and The International Group of ClubCorp and officially opened on October 14, 1994. Since its opening, the Capital Club has earned its place in the Beijing community as the premier international business, athletic, and social club. Members gather to entertain, relax, and network in their choice of sumptuous dining rooms, well equipped meeting rooms, or state-of-the-art recreation and fitness facilities. Members of the Capital Club currently number over 1,000 and represent the leaders of Beijing’s foreign and Chinese business and government community. http://www.thecapitalclub.com/english/home/index.php

American Club: This downtown country club covers two floors of the China Resources Building, offering a fitness center and spa, bars and upscale restaurants. Members are screened for reputation, character, and more importantly, financial standing. Corporate membership includes family and access to over 150 associated clubs around the world.

Beijing Pine Valley International Golf Club: One of Beijing’s premier courses, this 7,300 yd course was designed by Jack Nicklaus. The club also has a driving range, swimming pool, business center, tables, and villas. Pine Valley Resort, Nankou Tang, Changping District (8528 8038).

Community Services Organizations

Care for Children: Exists to relieve hardship, distress and sickness in abandoned and orphaned children in China by the introduction of strategic initiatives in child care practice, at the request of, and in cooperation with, the Chinese national and local authorities. Their goal is to see one million children with new foster families by 2010. (8470-2735) http://www.careforchildren.com

Chi Heng Foundation: CHF provides education and support for AIDS orphans in Central China, an area particularly hard-hit by the virus as the result of improperly monitored blood transfusions, and promotes AIDS awareness across the country through a variety of educational, social, and vocational programs. (5820-8559) http://www.chfaidsorphans.com

Compassion for Migrant Children: Compassion for Migrant Children (CMC) is a nonprofit organization founded in early 2006 to help China’s urban migrant children, primarily through offering social and educational programs. They also act as a ‘think tank’ for all things related to migrants and migrant issues in China, collaborating with organizations and individuals who share the common vision of giving every migrant child a future and hope. (6465-6100/1), http://www.cmc-china.org/

Check listings in expat magazines for many more community service organizations in and around Beijing.

Other Networking Groups

International Newcomers Network INN: This group hosts a range of events aimed at helping Beijing newbies through the transition to life in the capital. Monthly meetings cover a range of topics from how to open a bank account to sign up for health care, to finding an ayi. INN also hosts coffee hours at the Bookworm in Sanlitun and O’Brien’s in Shunyi.