Etiquette In China - Business and Travel Tips
Educating yourself on the customs and etiquette in China is an important part of preparation for an enjoyable travel experience. China is the oldest continuous civilization on the planet encompassing more than 5000 years of history, and their customs and etiquette are steeped in tradition.
Although China has changed drastically in recent years, and the people there are very open to westerners, travelers still need to be aware of the basic acceptable manners and etiquette.
The ethical system in China is largely based on Confucianism, but has been influenced by Legalism, Marxism and Daoism. There is an emphasis on personal virtue, merit based promotion, and devotion to family and justice.
As a foreigner, allowances will be made for you, but it is advisable, particularly in a business environment, to remain alert to the behavior around you and not behave in an incompatible manner.
Etiquette In China: Basic Tips
Here are some tips to keep in mind on your journey:
- Losing Face: A foreigner will lose face in the eyes of the Chinese if they express anger openly. Impatience is considered a very serious character flaw. Also, a Chinese person may laugh in order to save face when they do not completely understand what you are trying to communicate.
- Make sure you shake hands with those you meet, and a little longer than common in the west, with a respectful nod of the head
- When sightseeing, be sure to ask permission before taking photographs of people or the inside of a temple.
- Shopping: Haggling is okay in the street markets, but not in the shops.
- Tea Houses: the environment is tranquil and serene. Keep your voice to a hushed tone in order to not disturb the quite atmosphere.
- A surname precedes the personal name because traditionally the family or clan has been viewed as more important than the individual. People may also refer to each other using their occupational title, such as Mayor Li
- English speaking skills will vary greatly. Those who do speak English, even just a little may really enjoy attempting a conversation with you!
- Tibet: Avoid conversation regarding Tibet. Most Chinese believe that Tibet has been a part of Mainland China for centuries and will not appreciate a human rights debate.
Etiquette In China : Making Friends
If you are fortunate enough to be invited into the home of a new friend in china, expect to be the center of attention, in a good way. Expect warm hospitality, with tea and snacks served immediately after arrival. This will likely be followed by a large meal. Bring small gifts to show your appreciation. Do not , however bring chocolate, flowers or a clock or watch. The words to give a clock sound identical to take someone to their death . At mealtime, watch what your hosts do and copy them. Wait for them to tell you to eat before you begin.
Etiquette in China : Business Tips
- When exchanging business cards, read the card you are handed, don’t merely glance at it.
- Laying out the business cards in front of you on the table may help you to remember names.
- Dress in proper business attire. Business casual will not be acceptable.
- There is no custom of giving precedence to women.
- Punctuality is important. They will not keep you waiting, and you should treat them with the same respect.
Surprisingly Not Rude:
- Blowing your nose between your finger on the street.
- Spitting, although there has been some effort to limit this.
- Belching: indicates a sense of well-being.