Not only friendship creates Guanxi.
CHINA TIP 5 (week 22, 2008)

One of the most widely discussed subjects about doing business with Chinese people is the phenomenon ‘Guanxi’. Litterly ‘Guanxi’ means “being closed into a system”. 
Not without reason, the term Guanxi often isn’t translated into English. In some occasions Guanxi is translated as ‘networking’, but that doesn’t reach the deeper meaning of the word. While networking is based on knowing which person does what, Guanxi is based on the right to ask a favour. Furthermore, Guanxi relates to someone’s background, work relations, family matters and relations that have nothing to do with friendship. 
Being aware a favour can be asked from the other party, is the foundation of Guanxi. 
 
Guanxi occurs when providing or requesting a favour. 
 
Friendship is just one out of many possibilities that enables asking favours. The criteria that defines a good friendship, is the possibility to rely and trust on each other. The friendship created by ‘Guanxi’ is not in the least comparable to ‘networking’ as we know that in the West. 
Having Guanxi purely based on friendship, will cover years to build-up. Businessman who expect creating Guanxi by having dinners or spend time in Karaoke bars might create goodwill, but not Guanxi.   
 
Guanxi will occurs when “person A” helps a relation of “person B" with his/her visa application. Or, providing a job for someone related to your business partner is also an example that creates ‘light’ Guanxi. The level of effort and difficulty determines the level of Guanxi.
 
Needless to say, Western companies do not have a wide range of access possibilities for Guanxi at the first stages of doing business in China. Also many companies are not familiar with the requests of those ‘favours’ that often don’t match the social accepted values of doing business in Europe. Recruiting employees with the right Guanxi is the fastest way of establishing a Guanxi network. That is why certain persons from a social network with a specific family background are highly wanted regardless their capabilities and qualifications.
 
Best is to leave Guanxi up to your Chinese partners and employees. They know the game and can find the right approach.  
 
For most foreign businesspeople being involved in general networking activities and relationship maintaining is more than enough.