WFOE the minimum nowadays is around 100k RMB for a consulting WFOE.
You dont go very far with that kind of money… need to pay people right? Basically the minimum capital is so low nowadays that your friend better look at how much the operation will cost, cash flow etc.
Setup cost around 2-5k USD depending who you talk to. Not sure about WFOE vs. Rep Office in your friends case, but we looked at this recently for offshore software development (no revenue in China, all direct to US) and the WFOE was the best – we just put enough capital to fund the operation (need this anyway!), pay tax on revenue (zero) and profit (zero). The Rep Off would have to pay tax on expenses, plus all the fees for recruiting people through FESCO/CIIC etc.