Etiquette in China

From one of the last estimates, over 1.7 billion people live in China.

The official language is standard Chinese which is based on the Mandarin dialect. More than 70 percent of the population speak Chinese, however, many Chinese can speak Cantonese, Wu, and Kejia. English is known very well amongst business people.

The Chinese government still pushes Atheism, but because of the constitution in China, there is religious freedom. Within China, there are a few religions that arel the most popular; Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, and Christianity.

The currency in China is the reminbi (RMB) and they are 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard time.

It’s common for Chinese to shake foreigners hands.

People prefer to be introduced to new people formally.

You may be applauded! Applaud back.

Always greet the oldest person first.

If there is any bowing down, it’s from the shoulders not waist.

Don’t be surprised when Chinese people look down while greeting.

Use honorific titles and surnames. You will be informed when the first name use is more appropriate.

Don’t stare into another person’s eyes. Anticipate Chinese people avoiding eye contact in public for privacy purposes.

To do business with a Chinese company, you will need an intermediary.

Send materials that explain your company.

Silence while others are speaking is appreciated.

Be patient with the bureaucracy of doing business in China.

Chinese business people prefer face-to-face meetings over phone or written communication.

There is no business discussed over meals.

You are very much representing your company, not yourself, when you meet with Chinese business people.

There is no gender bias in Chinese business.

If you frown while someone is speaking, it will indicate you disagree with them. Chinese business people may be more impassive when speaking than you are.

When giving gifts to business associates from China, avoid anything white, blue, or black. These colors are associated with funerals, but, red, pink, and yellow are considered to be “joyful” colors. However, do not write a message in red ink because writing in this color implies the severing of a relationship.

Gifts demonstrate the power of the giver and the recipient.

Avoid giving gifts in sets of four.

Always wrap gifts, avoiding the above-mentioned colors. No need to wrap them elaborately.

Gifts from where you come from are appreciated. Gifts should not be given if they make it impossible to reciprocate.

Anticipate being invited out rather to a Chinese person’s home for dinner. But if you are invited to the home, this is a great honor. If you must say no, explain there is a schedule conflict so as to avoid offense.

Be on time for arrival.

Remove shoes before you enter the home.

A small gift for the hostess is appropriate.

If you eat well, this indicates you are enjoying the meal.

You will be told where to sit.

The host begins eating first.

Eat everything you are offered, but don’t take the last piece of anything on the tray.

Bones don’t go in the bowl.

Keep the rice bowl close to your mouth while dining.


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