Guanxi or relationship management has many meanings, however in professional project management, relationship management or guanxi guanli is known as Stakeholder Management. Stakeholder Management is prevalent in most professional projects and is usually formally documented and planned during the initial phases of a project, starting with the business case analysis.
I believe the comments here are more related to the abuse of relationships - inserting family, friends, or relationships for positions that they may not be qualified for, thereby potentially introducing external risk to a project or investment, but I don't see this as very different from managing an troublesome or under qualified employee assigned to a project, by upper management for whatever reason. It's just another thing to manage.
Stephen58 - if you'd like to meet, just PM me and we can share information and perspectives on historical and current relationship management in Yunnan.
Most of my relationships in Yunnan are gravitating towards a more professional approach to relationship management, as the rather complicated business climate is slowly evolving, towards professional scientific processes for mitigating risk, reducing or eliminating corruption, and generally getting things done professionally, especially at the higher levels of government and investment organizations.