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Chinese business Culture

Updated on May 29, 2013

Making Appointments

The first thing that we have to keep in mind when we do business in Chine is that when we have made an appointment, be sure that we are arrive punctual. In is considered a serious insult towards Chinese when you are late. In case case you know that you are going to be late in advance, contact and inform them as soon as possible as to make your business partners able to make adjustments and changes in their program, and schedule.

It is probably wise to know that during lunch break, which normally is between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m, all workers stop working in China, and practically everything stops, including such things as elevators and phone services.


To have better chances in the relationship base business culture of China, it might be advantegous to learn about some basics of the Chinese language, culture, history, and geography. If done so, your Chinese potential business partners will take you much more seriously, and you will have more chance of being able to get the business

The following point is VERY important when considering business in China; never say “no”, or other negative replies directly, instead, give way to a future possibility. Answering with “maybe”, for instance, would be an excellent response. After this start talking about the specifics. If your Chinese partner say, “There are no big problems left”, this normally means that in reallity there are still some problems that have to be considered.

You might be asked personal questions like age and income, and family. In case you do not want to reveal such informations, just as we have seen above, give unspecific answers, although this could increase the trust of the Chinese, and so might be advisable to tell some of them. You should not inquire about their family, and never express your irration with their questions. However you may ask about the general health of their family

Small talk is very important at the start of meetings, in China. Talking about the weather, Chinese geography, and art. Do not mention the politics, and use such words as “communism”.

Gesturing should also be considered. During speaking try to avoid making expansive gestures and using unusual facial expressions. The Chinese do not use their hands when speaking, and will become annoyed with one who does. The Chinese, especially those who are older and in positions of authority, dislike being touched by strangers. Generally speaking, keep a distance, and try not to “show off”. The Chinese will sometimes nod as an initial greeting. Bowing is seldom used. Handshakes are also popular; wait, however, for your Chinese parten to offer to shake hands.

Addressing others with respect.

People should be addressed with respect; usually use the title and the last name. Whenever possible, use the proffesional, and official titles. In China women usually keep using their maiden name even after they are married.


Giving gift in China used to be a normality, however, as a general gideline today, giving gifts is considered in the Chinese business world to be a serious offences, as it might be considered a bribery and inpolite, because what some presents might imply, for instance, a clock. The best presents would be such as nice pens and good liquer or other such alcholic beverage. It is also illegal.

The Chinese will decline the gifts offered several times, usually three or more, before they accept it, because they do not want to appear greedy. Once it is accepted express your gratitude. If you are offered a gift do likewise. Never give expensive gifts

Giving a gift to an company as a whole can be acceptable, whereas giving gift to a specific individual should be done privately.


Bring an interpreter; he/she will know the little nueances in the meaning of a Chinese statement. During the meeting always talk simple, but in an official and polite manner. Frequent pauses are also adviseable. Also be sure that you are prepared to make your presentations to several levels in the organization, and that you are prepared in what you are presenting and also in having enough materials to distribute among your business partners.

It has to be remembered that business and life in China is still largely governed the government. Therefore in all business decision it is allways the government or the local authorities are the one who have the final say in the matters.

One’s social status and reputation is very important in China, therefore we should try to say and do things that might embarrass the Chinese business partner. Also the top-management of an organisation should be present during meetings with chinese.

The process of exchange of business card is a very important in the Chinese business culture. Make sure that you have plenty and the text on is written with gold letters both in English and Chinese. Mind the appriate addressing and title use on them! When you recieve a business card, make sure you read it, or you might be offending.

The Chinese may extend negotiations beyond the pre-agreed deadline, and might renegotiate the agreement even on the last day of the stay in the country, or after the contract was signed . This should be treated patiently, and one should not have emotional outbursts. Given the fact that Chinese prefer establishing a trustworthy relationship before making an agreements, one might have to travel to the country a several times before the final goal is achieved.

Entertaining For Business Success

In China banquets, and business lunches are more and more popular. The purpose of this is to get the potential business partner better, and whether he/she trustworthy. This is why, although it might not seem to be related to business it can easily happen that it is during this time that the Chinese will decide that they will accomplish the business or not. Evening banquets usually start between 5:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m. and last for about two hours. The best practice at these occasion usually is to behave as the Chinese do. Banquets are hosted with varying degrees of extravagance, usually in a restaurant.


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