China

Dos and don'ts

Business Etiquette

Business is still very relational in China.
Bringing someone with local knowledge that you trust is crucial.
Organizations are very hierarchical. It is important to talk to a senior manager to make sure that you are not just banging your head against a wall. In meetings, it is usually the top manager who handles most of the talking. This is traditional, and not necessarily the case in a more modern setting/organization.

Appointment Etiquette

Business people travelling in China should use the services of an intermediary to meet new contacts. Casual travellers should also seek out introductions through intermediaries, if possible. In all cases, when introductions are made, they are usually formal, starting with the most senior person present. People will remain for introductions, and they may shake hands briefly, but they will not engage in other physical contact or express emotions.

Business Card Etiquette

Business cards can be bilingual for international business: one side of your business card in Simplified Chinese and the other in English.

Use both hands when exchanging business cards: This is a vital gesture of respect required when people present and receive business cards.

Important to note

In China, the family name comes first, followed by the first name (e.g. for Xing Ming: Xing is the last name and Ming is the first name).

Small talk is considered especially important at the beginning of a meeting.

Exchanging WeChat accounts has become even more important than business cards, as it can be one of the most useful tools to enhancing both business communication and personal relationships.

Dress Code

Appearances and first impressions are important in Chinese business culture. Dressing properly and wearing high quality clothing will help to indicate both status and modesty. At formal events, men should wear a suit and tie; whereas women should wear a dress or business suit.

Shaking hands

A normal greeting at business meetings.

Body language

Nodding is one of the easiest ways to greet someone. It’s often used with people you’re not very familiar with, on formal business occasions, or when you don’t have time to talk. You can just simply nod and smile at the person you wish to greet.

Important to note

Try to avoid wearing extremely high heels if you are a tall person.
Social distance is much shorter in China, so do not stand too far away.

Do not:

  • Never write a name in red ink in China.
  • Do not open your gifts right away unless you are asked to do so.
  • Try to avoid the number “4” as it sounds like "death" in Chinese.

Do:

  • In Chinese etiquette, it is important to express thanks for gifts and services performed, and to be modest when thanked.

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