There are three ways to start up a company in China, you can open a representative office (which is a very limited structure designed to allow you to hold meetings and buy things and not much more), a joint venture (usually with a Chinese controlling interest) and a wholly owned foreign enterprise.
More often than not it's the last vehicle that is chosen by new businesses thanks to the practicalities of control and the ability to hire your own staff. It's rare that that people choose a representative office because it works out more expensive for less flexibility than owning your own business.
It can however be a wise choice to work with a local partner, as long as they understand your market place and you can obtain evidence of successful work in the past across cultures. Otherwise the inevitable clash of working practices may drive you mad.
When you want to get started in China don't just rush in, choose to work with someone who knows the country and can help you address some of the issues highlighted above. It's a fantastic country filled with endless opportunity but it requires patience and hard work to make the best of things.