30 Mar

Chinese Business Culture And Etiquette

Chinese Business Culture

With the continuous advancement and expansion of China’s economy, there comes an increasing need for more people who are capable of doing business with the Chinese people. Over the years, Mandarin has become one of the most popular second language to learn for westerners and even Asians alike.

And true, Mandarin has opened up vast opportunities for them. But, just learning how to speak Mandarin isn’t enough when it comes to dealing with Chinese businessmen. The potential for miscommunication is always present especially in in-person discussions and meetings.

It really pays a lot if you know some of the customs, traditions or etiquettes in business dealing with the Chinese. Here are some of the things you should know:


You’ll never get a second chance at first impressions, so you better do it right. Greetings are important to anyone so to speak. If you want to impress your Chinese client or soon to be partner, make sure you greet them in Mandarin properly.Usually handshakes are common, but it should be initiated by your Chinese counterpart.

Exchanging Business Cards

Whenever you introduce yourself in a business setting, usually it involves exchanging of business cards. People may think this is not a big deal, but in China and for the Chinese people receiving a business card with just one hand and immediately keeping it in your pocket may mean disrespect.

The proper way to do it is to receive it with both hands and make sure you show care in handling it and acknowledging the gesture. Take time to look at it and see the title or position he holds and address him/her according to his title.

Breaking The Ice

Initiating a small talk can break the ice during meetings. It would be helpful if you are updated in current happenings and issues around the country or the business industry you plan to work in.

Just make sure you steer away from any topics that are quite sensitive like politics, religion, and other personal affairs that are inappropriate. You can start with food and then to personal interests outside business.


Chinese people value respect in ranks or status in the company or the government. Be sure to pay respect and attention to them when they are speaking. During restaurant meetings, don’t just sit immediately, wait for the elders to sit first and they will show you where you’d sit.

Also, whenever you are in a situation that you want to refuse an offer or something, don’t just say “no” bluntly. Instead, just thank you but I’ll think about. It’s common practice for the Chinese people to give attention to these basic manners.

Invitaion For A Meeting

This is basic. Whenever you invite for a dinner meeting on a restaurant, it is a custom for the Chinese that whomever invited will be the one to pay for the food. And never show your money in front of your guest as this may be interpreted as rude or arrogant.

Giving Gifts

Gift giving is very common among Chinese people and you should do this too. But be careful about choosing the gifts you give. Make sure your gift is not too expensive as they may feel obligated to return the favor.

When receiving a gift, do not open it in front of them unless told otherwise.

Although younger generations of business Chinese executives are now more open and understanding about the cultural differences of other nationalities it is always beneficial if you know these business etiquettes.

Remember, the Chinese people prefers to start a relationship based on trust first before anything else. It all boils down to better understanding and respect of their culture and traditions.