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Insight to China: A Communication Guide

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This is the second blog post in an intercultural blog series. The posts in this series provide a “crash course” into communicating with nationals from other countries. Best practices, cultural differences, and interesting facts will be provided. For cultural insight to India, click here.

  1. A bow is the traditional greeting and should be expected when exchanging business cards. Receive the card with two hands and read it carefully before continuing the conversation. Do not take notes on the card.
  2. You can also expect a handshake in greeting. Compared to Western standards, the handshake is not firm. This is not a sign of insincerity, but of respect and gentleness.
  3. China follows Confucian ideology. Respect and honor are prevalent in their society. The Chinese are proud of their cultural heritage and will be happy to share their traditions.
  4. Do not point out flaws in public. The concept of mianzi, or “maintaining face” is very important in China. Never say or do anything that may embarrass or insult a Chinese coworker. 
  5. The one-child policy was lifted in early 2016. All families in China may now have two children. Do not make comments about this policy, as Chinese have differing opinions on the policy.
  6. When bargaining or negotiating be prepared with more copious details. China is a very detail-oriented culture and the Chinese will be impressed by fine details. Image of doing business in a market in China
  7. It is generally expected that you present a modest gift to your coworkers as an expression of good wishes and the start of a positive relationship. Do not wrap the gift in colors that are associated with mourning: green, white, blue, or black. 
  8. Younger generations of Chinese may be very curious about life outside of China. During downtime, encourage questions and enjoy the cultural exchange.
  9. Punctuality is expected at business meetings.
  10. Periods of silence are not considered awkward. Rather, this provides a reflective time for everyone to process their thoughts.New Call-to-action

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