One key for an understanding of Chinese economic behaviour in Singapore, Hong Kong or Malaysia is tmst - a term which has not been thoroughly dealt with in contemporary studies. With reference to the Chinese business community in Chinese-dominated Singapore and sociological concepts of trust, the article aims at analyzing the different levels of meaning of the trust mechanism (Chinese: xinyong) which is seen as essential lubricant in Chinese personalistic and non-contractual business relations. But trust in itself is no guarantee of cooperative behaviour. To enable interpersonal trust as precommitment and basis of local or international trading networks and commercial cooperation to unfold its efficacy, certain sociostructural conditions must be fulfilled. Interpersonal relations and structures of such (trading) networks are important to generate (business) trust and to hinder malfeasance.