PCS Blog

10 Do’s in Chinese Business

Posted by Alice Hodge | 06 January 2014

A part of the Eastern culture, business practices in China vary a lot from etiquette in the west. Mastering the appropriate business etiquettes in China is essentially important and it can provide an invaluable edge in a highly competitive business economy. 
  1. Greet everyone with a light handshake as it is usually regarded as a respectful and standard business practice in Chinese business meetings. One point you should not miss is that do greet the most senior person at first, and when you are greeting people, slightly lower your eyes as it is considered as a symbol of respect.

  2. Exchanging business cards is also as good as shaking hands. While exchanging business cards with Chinese, it is better to present using both hands and slightly bow forward.

  3.  Seek for common ground between the partners. Usually the Chinese would love to establish relationship before doing business transactions. It could be anything from hobbies, interests to the same university, etc.

  4. Send appropriate gifts in good attitude. Sending gifts is a common business practice in China; however, gifts will not be immediately received so as not to appear greedy. It is often refused several times. If it is refused, as the giver, you should kindly offer the gift again. Bear in mind to wrap the gift, and send out using both hands as it is considered to be more polite. Gifts are usually opened later rather than in front of the giver. If you are presented a gift, follow the same process as above.

  5. Take appropriate seat when dining out with Chinese in formal occasions. Usually a trip will be made to a private room of a grand restaurant before setting down into business. For traditional Chinese business meal, there is usually an elaborate seating arrangement for the host and the guest depending on the seniority. It is very important to adhere to the rules when attending the meals.

  6. Drink with the Chinese. Usually when there is an informal meal, there will be alcohol. If you cannot drink, declare that you are a non alcoholic or use medical grounds as excuses, in this way it can let you off the hook with little drinks. However, the best way is to bring a person who can drink well on your behalf.

  7. Treating them to dinners, KTV or other activities would benefit a lot since most Chinese would like to know the person more before doing business. If you want to win Chinese’s trust and do successful business, it would be better to spend more time communicating with them through dinners, meetings or any other activities.

  8. Give “face” to the Chinese as they attach great importance to it. During business negotiations, respect them and their desire. Do not ask anyone to do anything that they think beneath them, or else, it could ruin the relationship. Never comment, criticize or insult someone in front of too many people as it would make them lose “face” if being humiliated in the public. Instead, it is better to talk to the person when he or she is alone.

  9. Nurture close relationships with Chinese counterparts. Building strong partnership can not only eliminate operational risks but also create avenues for shooting troubles when in need of help.

  10. Establish intimate relationship with Chinese government officials. The Chinese government has a great impact in market movement as well as administering foreign enterprises. Lots of hiccups can be eliminated during the process of paperwork applications or local authorization if forming a close relationship with government officials for those who want to do business in China.

Adapted from Business Practices and the Chinglish Resoucrce Guide


Chinglish runs January 11 — February 9. Tickets available HERE.
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