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    -Bring gifts. Small things are OK, even something like silver dollars would be acceptable probably, things that are symbolic

    of your own country/culture are very good.

    -Accept business cards (and other gifts) with both hands. Give your own card, and other gifts, in the same fashion (shows

    respect and sincerity).

    -Eat and drink at least a little of everything you're offered. If you can't or don't want to eat something, be prepared to have an

    excuse (I'm allergic) and, if necessary, let your hosts know beforehand.

    -Be humble. Don't be self-deprecating, but play down and deflect any compliments you get rather than saying "thank you."

    -When toasting, be sure that your glass is slightly lower than the glass of anyone who is above your level in the company.

    Often, in a competition to be polite, both sides will try to lower their glasses repeatedly. Just do your best to keep your glass

    lower. If you don't, it's not a big thing, but if Chinese people see you doing this they'll be impressed with your cultural


    -Try to speak a little Chinese. You're not going to master the language, but a little "ni hao" and "xiexie" and "zai jian" shows

    that you respect their culture and you're making an effort to understand it.

    -Hire a GOOD interpretor. Do not skimp on this. If you're going for a serious business negotiation where large amounts of

    money are at stake, hire or bring your own (even if the other company is providing one for you too), and be sure the one you

    bring is qualified!

    -When guests leave, see them out.

    -Smoke and drink when it's offered to you, if you can. Cigarettes and, especially in the northeast, booze, are symbols of

    friendship, and in China business runs on personal relationships so they're symbols of business partnership, too. If you can't

    or don't smoke, tell them you "can't" () as this tends to work. If you don't drink, you'd better have a good excuse ready."I'm a recovering alcoholic." is not a good excuse. Neither is "my dad was a drunk." Say you're allergic.

    -Know what to call people and who is in charge of who. Hierarchy is more important in Chinese companies than Western

    ones, and you'll embarrass the bosses if you treat the regular employees better than them.


    -Give 4 of anything, or give a clock or watch. These are inauspicious, and imply death.

    -Stick your chopsticks in your rice so that they stick up or out. This looks like the incense at a Chinese funeral. Lay the

    chopsticks flat on top of the bowl.

    -Point your chopsticks at anyone, or wave them around while talking.

    -Say "No". Be aware of "face", and don't openly reject or criticize someone Chinese when there are others from their

    company around. In the business world, you will rarely hear "no," what you hear is "I think this needs some more work" or

    "we will consider it." or something like that.

    -Try to bribe anyone. Yes, this is how the Chinese business world sometimes works, but it almost never works that way for

    foreigners. Obey Chinese laws or be ready to pay the price...

    dos & don'ts

    Many travelers from abroad are confused and frightened by Chinese customs. This handyreference tool makes it easy for newcomers to Beijing to fit right in.

    So come along, my alien friend! Welcome to Beijing!

    The order of Chinese names is family name first, then given name.Among some 440 family names, the 100 most common ones account

    for 90% of the total population. Brides in China do not adopt their

    husband's surnames.Among Chinese, a popular way to address each other, regardless of

    gender, is to add an age-related term of honor before the family name. These include : lao

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    (honorable old one), xiao (honorable young one) or occasionally da (honorable middle-aged


    Unlike the Japanese, Chinese do not commonly bow as a form of

    greeting. Instead, a brief handshake is usual. While meeting elders orsenior officials, your handshake should be even more gentle and

    accompanied by a slight nod. Sometimes, as an expression ofwarmth, a Chinese will cover the nomal handshake with his left hand.

    As a sign of respect, Chinese usually lower their eyes slightly when they meet others.

    Moreover, embracing or kissing when greeting or saying good-bye is highly unusual.

    Generally, Chinese do not show their emotions and feelings in public. Consequently, it isbetter not to behave in too carefree a manner in public. Too, it is advisable to be fairly

    cautious in political discussions.

    Chinese do not usually accept a gift, invitation or favor when it is firstpresented. Politely refusing two or three times is thought to reflect

    modesty and humility. Accepting something in haste makes a person look

    aggressive and greedy, as does opening it in front of the giver. Traditionally the monetary

    value of a gift indicated the importance of a relationship, but due to increasing contact withforeigners in recent years, the symbolic nature of gifts has taken foot.

    Present your gifts with both hands. And when wrapping, be aware that the Chinese ascribemuch importance to color. Red is lucky, pink and yellow represent happiness and

    prosperity; white, grey and black are funeral colors.

    The popular items include cigarette lighters, stamps (stamp collecting is a popular hobby),T-shirt, the exotic coins make a good gift to Chinese.And the following gifts should be avoided:

    1.White or yellow flowers (especially chrysanthemums), which are used for funerals.

    2.Pears. The word for Pear in Chinese sounds the same as separate and is considered badluck.

    3.Red ink for writing cards or letters. It symbolizes the end of a relationship.

    4.Clocks of any kind. The word clock in Chinese sound like the expression the end of life.

    China is one of those wonderful countries where tipping is not practiced

    and almost no one asks for tips. The same thing goes even in Hong Kongand Macao, except in some luxurious hotels.

    Traditionally speaking, there are many taboos at Chinese tables, but thesedays not many people pay attention to them. However, there are a fewthings to keep in mind, especially if you are a guest at a private home.

    1. Don't stick your chopsticks upright in the rice bowl. Instead, lay them on your dish. Thereason for this is that when somebody dies, the shrine to them contains a bowl of sand orrice with two sticks of incense stuck upright in it. So if you stick your chopsticks in the ricebowl, it looks like this shrine and is equivalent to wishing death upon person at the table!

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    2. Make sure the spout of the teapot is not facing anyone. It is impolite to set the teapot

    down where the spout is facing towards somebody. The spout should always be directed towhere nobody is sitting, usually just outward from the table.

    3. Don't tap on your bowl with your chopsticks. Beggars tap on their bowls, so this is not

    polite. Also, in a restaurant, if the food is coming too slow people will tap their bowls. If you

    are in someone's home, it is like insulting the cook.

    Travel tips

    Chinamay be changing fast, but it's still a highly traditional society. Showing respect for local customs will make your

    travels more pleasant for you and those around you. Here's some tips to help you avoid a gaffe.

    Read more:

    Do remove your shoes when entering a Chinese home or temple

    greet the eldest person in a Chinese family first, as a sign of respect

    beckon someone by waving them over to you with your palm down. Dont point or use your finger (this gesture isused for dogs).

    present things to people with both hands, to show that what youre offering is the fullest extent ofyourself

    be effusively thankful if someone gives you a gift, then set it aside to open later, to avoid appearing greedy

    be prepared for random people approaching to you and asking to practice their English

    keep calm when dealing with officials, especially if tense situations arise. Getting angry or raising your voice willcreate only an ugly, face-losing situation for all.

    eat what your host offers and orders, including alcohol; its rude to refuse

    touch your glass below that of the eldest person in the group when toasting the eldest (aka wise one) holdshis/her glass highest

    fill your companions tea cup when its empty, especially if your companion is older than you

    eat all of the rice in your bowlsome Chinese believe its bad luck to leave even a single grain behind

    say how much you love watching Yao Ming play in the NBA (when hes healthy)
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    prepare yourself to see animals treated very differently than youre used to back home

    be punctual. Being on time shows respect for others.

    Don't write anything in red ink unless youre correcting an exam. Red ink is used for letters of protest.

    leave your chopsticks upright in your bowl or tap your bowl with them

    point the bottom of your shoes/feet at someone shake your feet, lest you shake away all of your luck.

    touch someones head (its sacred)

    give clocks or books as gifts. The phrase to give a clock in Mandarin sounds too much like attend a funeral andgiving a book sounds like delivering defeat.

    make political comments like boy, didnt Maokill a lot of people unless your new pals take the lead. ManyChinese remain huge Mao fans, as proven daily by the lines at hismausoleum.

    make out with your beau limit your PDAs, lovebirds.

    be offended when asked if youre married and if youre over 30 and single, say yes, lest you be pitied

    give too much attention to an object someone else has; they may feel obligated to give it to you

    wear your FreeTibett-shirt unless you want a LOT of attention

    Use those pretty gold/silver papers for western dcor. Its for spiritual/culturalChinese rituals.

    freak out if you dont know what to do. When in doubt, simply watch what the Chinese people do and follow suit.

    Read more:

    Dos and Don'ts in ChinaDos and Don'ts in China

    As many other countries, China has her own customary practices in social life and the

    business world. The Chinese have some taboos in doing things, too. But great changes have

    taken place since the reform from 1978 and dynamic China shows her difference and

    uniqueness to the outside world. We just put some points here for foreign friends attentionand for their reference in communications with the Chinese people. But we remind you of

    having these remarks in mind when communicating with people from another culture:

    Thats not right, thats not wrong, thats just different!

    1. Meeting with Chinese People

    It is most important thing for people from different cultures to meet each other, which

    creates foundation for understanding and mutual understanding. In China, it is common to

    extend right hand to shake hands with people when being introduced, but being a male,

    wait for the woman to extend hand first. It is considered awkward to hold a waomans hand

    long and strong or cover a womans hand with two hands.

    It is common practice to offer business card while meeting people for the first time,

    especially meeting people for official or business purposes. There fore, you had betterprepare some name cards for yourself when coming to China. When you hand over your

    card to others, you had better present it with both of your hands, holding the two corners of

    the card in a position that the receiver can easily read it. It will be appreciated to prepare

    the card printed both in Chinese and your native language, but it will also do in only your

    own language. It is polite to receive the business card with both hand and pronounce it

    carefully in the face of the person presenting the card to you, especially the name of the

    person. It is OK to ask for a business card from those you want to keep in contact with by
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    only saying: May I have a business card from you in case I need your help? or Could you

    give me your card to have your instruction in the future? The person you ask a card from

    will feel important and respected by your asking.

    It is polite to stand up when somebody approaches you or somebody is being introduced to

    you while you are sitting there. More attention and respect should be paid to the elderly and

    the higher ranking people by offering them to enter the room first or allowing them to beseated first. It will be practical, useful or welcome and appreciated to memorize some

    simple greeting in the Chinese language such as ni hao(hello) and xie xie (thanks), and

    practice them often in meeting Chinese, which will make your stay a more convenient and

    pleasant one. But do not feel bothered by these frequent questions such as: Where are you

    from? Is it first time you come to China? How long will you stay in China? How do you like

    China? Have you ever been toBeijing? Have you visited the Great Wall? Do you like Chinese

    food? These questions are by no means offensive, but just like the weather topic between

    people in western cultures.

    2. Dinning with Chinese People

    The Chinese people are considerate people, so you should not be surprised when seeing

    some strangers invited at the same time with you for s dinner. They may be the people the

    host thinks that you will work with in the near future, or that you may need help from or do

    business with in the future.

    It would be nice if you could try to learn some phrase for practical purposes for the

    banquet: hao chi-at you will; bie ke qi do not stand on so much formality, be at home;

    hao chi- delicious; chi bao le-I am full; and to find good topics is always welcome in the

    banquet. And it would be desirable to contribute to the good atmosphere of the banquet. If

    not, try not to be spoiling it.

    You are not supposed to put your chopsticks straight on the rice of the bowl, because it is

    the way the Chinese lay for dead people in big festivals. You should observe the position the

    waitress starts serving the dishes. You are not supposed to pick up the dish before the

    principal host extends his chopsticks to the dish first, and do not drink before he invites you

    to drink, especially at the beginning of the banquet.

    During the banquet, if you find some dish especially to your taste, you can turn the Lazy

    Susan- ratary, but if there is something such as dogs meat or cats meat, or some internal

    organs of animals or Chinese favorite tonic food, you can put them on the plates to avoid

    more coming in. But you should not eat too much at first even if there are some dishes to

    your taste, and you may leave some space for other delicious dishes to follow, for in a

    Chinese banquet, cold dishes are served first in small plates and then hot dishes in bigger


    After the toast of the host, the guests are supposed to give return toast, especially the main

    guest. You are supposed to do bottoms up sometimes with your warm Chinese partners,

    and to do that at least once to show your sincerity. But if you are not good at drinking, you

    can also avoid it by giving some excuses such as allergic to alcohol, digestion problem, liverproblems and so on..

    It is not considered bad manners to use hand to deal with crabs or chicken with crabs or

    chicken with bones. You can put shells or bones on the desk or your own plate. Sometimes

    a bowl of cleansing water is served for cleaning your hands before eating hard dealing as

    above-mentioned and after.

    Fish is the last course of the dishes. The host will ask the guests what kind of food they

    prefer. Food here means white rice or Cantonese rice, Chinese noodle, Chinese dumpling or
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    Chinese cake, etc. When the dessert comes, such as fruits, it suggests the end of the

    banquet. And before leaving the banquet, show your thanks and appreciation for the hosts

    kindness and express your willingness to return the kindness or the hospitality when your

    host visits your home country.

    3. Communicating with Chinese People

    As we all know that the Chinese culture belongs to high-context culture in which peopletend to be more aware of their surroundings and their environment and do not rely on

    verbal communication as their main information channel. So people from the opposite low-

    context culture will think the Chinese are indirect and not clear-cut in expressing ideas while

    the Chinese people think the westerners are so direct as to lead to conflicts easily in


    Hierarchy in China makes people ready to accept orders or tasks given from higher level

    authority, but reluctant to share information at the same level or with people under them,

    though this might not be then case with the economic development for the moment. In a

    high-context culture such as that in China, people expect their communication partner to

    read their minds. So many westerners from low-context culture think that the Chinese are

    ambiguous and vague in communication. When exchanging information the Chinese tend to

    give others all the necessary information except the crucial piece, the most sensitive piece

    that may cause some unpleasantness for present harmony. For instance, No is considered

    impolite to the person rather than to his idea in the Chinese culture. The direct no is rude

    and against the rule of Li (politeness) of Confucius in interpersonal relations. No will be

    conveyed by the following forms: We will think about it a bit: We will discuss it before

    giving the answer; We will report it to our boss; That is a good question; You can

    contact me later; It will be done in the near future; or we will consider your good

    suggestion, etc. And sometimes behavior like smile, shaking hands or silence implies that

    the question goes beyond the speaker. A Chinese proverb says: youd better say three

    times Yes than once No. It suggests that a positive statement is considered more

    important than a negative one in Chinese communication.

    When asking a favor of a Chinese, you had better leave a space for the Chinese to react.Try to ask in a way to make the Chinese easily convey the no in the answer. For example:

    A person who needs help is conveying his message to a potential helper: Are you very busy

    these days? I am busy with a meeting, I think maybe somebody is needed to take care of

    my baby a few hours a day. The expected negative answer: Oh, I am very busy these

    days with my family visiting me and I cook for them and show them around. The No is

    aired without embarrassment. Sometimes, subjunctive mood is used in asking for help: If

    only I can find somebody who likes to help me or I would be luckier to have somebody

    here to take care of my baby.

    Harmony is one of the primary principles in communication in China. If the message can

    affect the harmony or make the person lose face, then transmission of the message will be

    delayed or even deleted. The third party or middleman is often used between two parties to

    avoid direct conflicts. And finally, Qingke (invitation to dinner) is the usual way to helpfurther communication, and is used among friends, colleagues, partners or authorities.

    4. Gotiating with Chinese People

    The Chinese like to do business with friends to avoid the risk of being cheated. If you want

    to do business with Chinese, you had better use a third party whose reputation is accepted

    by the Chinese partner to introduce you to the business field.

    When you arrive in China expecting a contract, you should fully understand the kindness

    and hospitality shown in the Chinese partners arrangement of putting you in hotels, taking

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    you for the local sightseeing, or entertaining you with delicious food. The Chinese think the

    host should try his best to show his sincerity and hospitality toward friends or guests from

    far away, and it is a great pleasure for the Chinese to make the guest feel at home.

    The Chinese think it takes time to know each other better and become friends. To many

    foreigners, the Chinese are not efficient in doing business with them. The Chinese tend to

    find out the hierarchy situation of their partner in negotiations. There should be a leadingmember in the delegation. If this member wants to be more convincing, he or she had

    better be an elderly in the group.

    Before negotiating with the Chinese, you had better know the structure of the Chinese

    company and try to reach the person who has real power to give the last decision. The

    people who are active in the negotiating process sometimes are not the decision makers. In

    the first rounds of the negotiation, the powerful person sometimes does not show up. He

    will show up, say in some cases, only in the contract signing ceremony.

    Lacking patience in the negotiation makes the Chinese think that the partner is lacking

    sincerity in doing business. The Letter of Intent only shows that the two parties have

    strong interest in some business for many Chinese businessmen. It could not be taken as a

    legal contract or a guarantee for the business even if both parties have signed it.

    The Chinese tend to treat a partner to special accommodation for the sake of long- term

    relationship. They do compromise when taking long-term cooperation and friendship into

    consideration. But do not take for granted that the Chinese compromise easily and ask for

    more. The Chinese think that goes beyond modesty.

    5. Complimenting Chinese People

    Harmony for interpersonal relationship is so important in China that people developed a

    system of rules to enforce it. One way, this is easy and at low cost, is to give compliment.

    The Chinese compliment can cover almost all aspects or everything, complexion, hairstyle,

    new promotion and so on. And it eventually develops into a fine art of polishing

    interpersonal relationship. If you give compliment again and again to the Chinese on one

    thing such as painting or craft, you will find it your farewell gift; the Chinese like to read

    others mind as they expect others to read their.

    The Chinese like very much to give compliment to others because that will give

    enoughface (honor) to people at any time. The Chinese like compliment so much that

    criticism finds it hard to make its way out. In all business setting, compliment is seldom

    deleted from its main part of the occasions such as opening ceremony, closing ceremony,

    daily report, weekly meeting and so on. In China, you have to build a strong sense of

    judgment to tell true compliments. In attending a ceremony or an event, do not forget to

    tell the host you appreciate the arrangement. After attending a banquet, do not forget to

    give compliment to dishes, although they are not so delicious as you think.

    When you are given compliment by the Chinese, you should not be so frustrated by the

    overstated compliment and you had better show your modesty by saying in Chinese: na li

    na li(not so good); ma ma hu hu( just so so). When a Chinese is trying to point outsomething wrong with you, he will probably start from your good point in one way or

    another and lastly he will give you some hint to let you figure it out by yourself.

    6. Keeping in Contact with Chinese

    The Chinese like an established relationship to remain a long time. So the Chinese people

    try to contact each other from time to time by making phone calls, visiting each other or by

    dining with each other, though some changes have taken place, due to the ever increasing

    activities in life and work. The Chinese think that relationship is reciprocal, and do not like

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    those who come when they need help and vanish when they are needed for help. The


    Reciprocation can be found in every aspect of social activities. For example, a friend you

    once helped may pay your favor back by taking part in a celebration of your fathers

    birthday with a gift. The Chinese can not be at ease if owing somebody a favor for too long.

    Gifts play an important role in social activities of Chinese life. The value of the gift cansuggest the intention of the gift giver. If it is high-valued, it is means the giver will ask a

    favor from the gift receiver. If it is a small gift, it just shows the intention of greasing the

    relationship. It will make the Chinese lose face if the gift is declined. Most often gifts of

    similar value will be exchanged between the gift giver and receiver. It is considered bribery

    to receive high-valued gift such as a gold, cash or brand products from business partners.

    Gift exchange is a common activity in Chinese social life for relatives, friends and business

    partners. But now it is a fashion to use small things as gifts to avoid inconvenience for both

    gift sender and receiver. Almost anything can be chosen as a gift now in China but you had

    better not choose a clock.

    Give a clock in Chinese is the same as saying the Chinese with the meaning of attending

    somebodys funeral! In the past, give somebody a knife has meant bad feeling for cutting

    relationship with somebody. But nowadays, it is a fashion to give Swiss knife as a gift

    because it is famous for its good quality.

    It is common for business people to hold dinners and attend dinners often during weekends

    or holidays. Most business people think it is the most effective way to make friends and

    keep friendship tight. What is more, the dinners are usually arranged a few days before a

    few holidays, say the New Years Day, the Spring Festival and so on for providing an

    opportunity for you to express your gratitude for the favor you have received from the