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It was not until the early 20th Century that this practice was banned. The role of women began to change during the 20th Century, particularly following the foundation of the Peoples Republic, when equality of the sexes was encouraged. However, the strong ideology of Confucianism which identifies women as weak still prevails in some communities. Today, although women have many more advantages and take up roles traditionally held by men in medicine, pharmacology, education and science, they still struggle to higher hold executive positions. The one-child policy which was introduced in to curb the rapidly growing population has created problems in a society where traditionally, the male child is favoured over females.

This has led, in the past, to girl babies being abandoned or even becoming the victim of infanticide, although it is becoming less divided now and having girls has become more acceptable. Women are taught that they should endeavour to maintain a happy disposition throughout their pregnancy in order to have a happy child.

The guests bring money in a red envelope and are presented with plates of pickled red ginger and red eggs - in uneven numbers when celebrating the birth of a boy and even numbers when celebrating the birth of a girl. The colour red symbolises good luck, health and happiness whilst the eggs represent new life and harmony.

Business Culture and Etiquette in China | Today Translations

Children, although highly prized in China, are required to show obedience and respect to their elders and to undertake chores in the home and at school. Under communism, women are encouraged to take work outside the home which is is supported through the provision of kindergarten facilities. Chinese families are close and it is common for grandparents to play an important role in the care of the children.

Education in China is mandatory for nine years. At least three quarters of the population go on to attend secondary education which lasts for three years. The Chinese are famed for their eclectic mix of flavours, spices, colour and taste. Their staple foods are rice, tofu and noodles which form a basis to the wide variety of complimentary ingredients such as: Bamboo shoots, string beans, water chestnuts, Chinese mushrooms, ginger root, garlic, chillies and coriander. Individuals typically eat a wide range of meats, the most popular of which are pork and duck.

Fish and shell fish are also a popular source of food. Dinner is the most important meal of the day and will typically include a variety of dishes which may start with soup. Most popular dishes in China include: Spring Rolls, Peking Duck - thin strips of crispy, roasted duck served with shredded cabbage and a sweet sauce, Bang Bang chicken or duck, so called because the meat is tenderised by hitting it with a hammer, Chow Mein which incorporates stir fried noodles with either meat, fish or vegetables.

China became a member of the World Trade Organisation in They have free trade agreements with a number of other countries including: China has a rich heritage of culture, art and literature dating back to the earliest civilisations. Traditional beliefs influenced by changing imperial rulers, philosophies and Confucianism have been carried through time and are reflected in the arts. China was the first to discover porcelain which was perfected in the s during the Ming dynasty — hence the famed and valuable Ming vase. In the 19th Century western influence began to creep in and gave way to a new genre of writing.

Language and sentiments within the book aligned with some of the concerns held by those with communist leanings. Following the inception of communist rule all artists work has been censured and any criticism of the party ideology outlawed. Given names in China are usually one or two characters and come after the surname. It is not traditional for Chinese people to have a middle name. Women do not change their name when they marry but continue to retain the name of their father. Greetings are formal and the oldest person is always greeted first.

Handshakes are the most common form of greeting with foreigners. Many Chinese will look towards the ground when greeting someone. Address the person by an honorific title and their surname.


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If they want to move to a first-name basis, they will advise you which name to use. The Chinese have a terrific sense of humour. They can laugh at themselves most readily if they have a comfortable relationship with the other person. Be ready to laugh at yourself given the proper circumstances. Chinese non-verbal communication speaks volumes. Since the Chinese strive for harmony and are group dependent, they rely on facial expression, tone of voice and posture to convey meaning or intention.

Frowning while someone is speaking is interpreted as a sign of disagreement. Therefore, most Chinese maintain an impassive expression when speaking. It is considered disrespectful to stare into another person's eyes. In crowded situations, the Chinese avoid eye contact to give themselves privacy. Chinese people are precious of their personal space and do not like over-familiarity.

Touching is only acceptable between family and close friends. Prolonged eye contact could be seen as confrontational and avoiding eye contact can be seen as reverential rather than rude. In general, gifts are given at Chinese New Year, weddings, births and more recently because of marketing , birthdays. The Chinese like food and a nice food basket will make a great gift.

Do not give scissors, knives or other cutting utensils as they indicate the severing of the relationship.

Cultural difference in business

Do not give clocks, handkerchiefs or straw sandals as they are associated with funerals and death. Do not give flowers, as many Chinese associate these with funerals. Do not wrap gifts in white, blue or black paper. Four is an unlucky number so do not give four of anything. Eight is the luckiest number, so giving eight of something brings luck to the recipient. Always present gifts with two hands.

Gifts are not opened when received. Gifts may be refused three times before they are accepted. The Chinese prefer to entertain in public places rather than in their homes, especially when entertaining foreigners. If you are invited to a Chinese home, consider it a great honour. If you must turn down such an honour, it is considered polite to explain the conflict in your schedule so that your actions are not taken as a slight. Remove your shoes before entering the house. Bring a small gift to the hostess.

Eat well to demonstrate that you are enjoying the food! Learn to use chopsticks. Wait to be told where to sit. The guest of honour will be given a seat facing the door. Chopsticks should not be placed upwards in a bowl of rice as this is seen as bad luck. Business attire is conservative and unpretentious. Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits.

Women should wear conservative business suits or dresses with a high neckline. Women should wear flat shoes or shoes with very low heels. Bright colours should be avoided. In a formal situation with the Chinese, people should be addressed by their title followed by their last name. When meeting in a business environment, professional titles can be used, for instance, General Manager Liu or Director Wang.

Business cards are exchanged after the initial introduction. Have one side of your business card translated into Chinese using simplified Chinese characters that are printed in gold ink since gold is an auspicious colour. Your business card should include your title. If your company is the oldest or largest in your country, that fact should be on your card as well.

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Hold the card in both hands when offering it, Chinese side facing the recipient. Examine a business card before putting it on the table next to you or in a business card case. Never write on someone's card unless so directed. Appointments are necessary and, if possible, should be made between one-to-two months in advance, preferably in writing.

If you do not have a contact within the company, use an intermediary to arrange a formal introduction. Once the introduction has been made, you should provide the company with information about your company and what you want to accomplish at the meeting. You should arrive at meetings on time or slightly early.

The Chinese view punctuality as a virtue. Arriving late is an insult and could negatively affect your relationship Pay great attention to the agenda as each Chinese participant has his or her own agenda that they will attempt to introduce. Send an agenda before the meeting so your Chinese colleagues have the chance to meet with any technical experts prior to the meeting. Each participant will take an opportunity to dominate the floor for lengthy periods without appearing to say very much of anything that actually contributes to the meeting. Be patient and listen. There could be subtle messages being transmitted that would assist you in allaying fears of on-going association.

Mobile phones ring frequently and conversations tend to be boisterous. Never ask the Chinese to turn off their mobile phones as this causes you both to lose face. Guests are generally escorted to their seats, which are in descending order of rank. Senior people generally sit opposite senior people from the other side. It is imperative that you bring your own interpreter, especially if you plan to discuss legal or extremely technical concepts as you can brief the interpreter prior to the meeting.

Case Study: Orient Group

When you receive a gift, just as when you receive a business card, accept it with two hands. Giving gifts to your Chinese colleagues is a kind of art. What do you give? When do you give? To whom should you give? These are all questions worth discussing. However, for the sake of brevity, I will just give you an overview. Want to know why? Click here for details.


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Gifts should not be too expensive. At the end of the day, Chinese business people especially those in the younger generation are understanding and respectful of cultural differences. However, having a basic grasp of Chinese business etiquette and culture can not only impress your Chinese colleagues, counterparts, and clients but also help you build stronger working relationships with clear and smooth communication. Jing Cao is the chief editor at Dig Mandarin. She devotes herself to the research of Chinese langugage and how to teach Chinese as a second language better.

Chinese Meeting Etiquette 1. Greetings Nodding and smiling are very common greetings. Addressing Regarding a courteous address, most people should be addressed with their titles followed by their surname.

China Guide

Business cards Exchanging business cards is another key part of introductions. Chinese Chatting Etiquette 4. Small talk Chinese people, much like English-speaking peoples around the world, often open conversations with small talk, which can break the ice. Chinese Dining Etiquette 7. Seat and order During a Chinese dinner, there is a certain order in which people must sit down.

你好! (Hello!) and Welcome to our Guide to Chinese Culture, Customs, Business Practices & Etiquette

Invitation If you invite someone to do an activity or have a meal, you are expected to pay for it. Table manners Never stick your chopsticks straight into your bowl. Furthermore, never tap your bowl with your chopsticks as this is associated with begging. Chinese Gifts Etiquette Accepting gifts When you receive a gift, just as when you receive a business card, accept it with two hands. Giving gifts Giving gifts to your Chinese colleagues is a kind of art. The most important thing is to take cultural taboos seriously to avoid offending others. Tweet Share Plus one Share Email.

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