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China Business Dos and Don¡¯ts

Brief: China Business Dos and Don¡¯ts
Greetings
When meeting with foreigners Chinese people usually shake hands. They generally do not bow as in Korea or Japan, except on very formal occasions, such as when receiving an award or addressing an audience. A short and light handshake is the customary start to a business meeting. Don¡¯t touch - Do not touch Chinese guests, especially women; Chinese are not used to physical contact such as kissing or hugging in public. Handshakes are the most Chinese adopted from the West.

Accept business cards with two hands
Why? "It¡¯s a little representation of the person you're taking it from, so it should be treated with respect," That means no crumpling, dropping or stuffing it hastily in your pocket.

The same applies when presenting or receiving a gift it is polite to offer or receive it with both hands. This symbolizes that the present is an extension of your person. Care should be taken that the most important person in the group receives the gift before the others. Great care should be taken in regard to the color of the gift-wrapping. Chinese culture is very sensitive to colors. Red, gold and yellow colors are the best as they represent lucky. Don¡¯t use black or white color for the wrapping paper.

Do remember Chinese given and family names are said in the reverse order from English. So when written President Hu Jintao, the family name is Mr. Hu. However, some Chinese business cards may have the order of the names written with family name last as in accordance to the Western tradition. Most Chinese family names are short with one syllable.

¡°Saving face" ¨C¡°Losing Face¡±
Saving face
is one of the building blocks of Chinese culture. In practice, it means avoiding conflict and preserving other people's dignity. It can come in handy when dealing with anything from standard travel snafus to boardroom negotiations. "If you say something euphemistic or somebody tells a white lie," says Soeren Petersen, regional analyst for Asia at iJet, a travel risk consultancy, "it's OK for everybody to know that the truth is somewhere in the middle, but not hammer it out until everybody is humiliated."

No politics at dinner
Some Chinese can be fiercely patriotic and believe there is only one China hence try not to discuss much about Taiwan or Tibet. Both are regarded as integral part of China.

Don't jump in
The Chinese are comfortable with silences in conversation. After you've asked a question, it's worth pausing a little longer than you would with an American. If you rush to fill a silence, you could miss the most interesting thing someone has to say.

Know Chinese believes or superstitions
Four is pronounced the same as ¡°death¡± hence is bad ¡ª which is why hotels and office buildings in China rarely have a fourth floor. So best to avoid allocating room numbers with 4 or 44 to Chinese guests.

Eight is regarded as good as it sounds like ¡°prosperity¡± so you can make a Chinese guest happy by giving him or her a room with number 8.

Don¡¯t be surprised if you hear noises when Chinese have soup as in Chinese people say ¡°drink soup¡± and Chinese like have soup when it is hot hence inevitably making some noises though seasoned travelers tend to avoid doing that. The same applies when eating noodles. Chinese like the Japanese believe by sucking in noodles like children learning to eat, the food tastes better.

Do ask if Chinese guests smokes as most of them do hence, better to allocate them into smoking rooms than giving them fine once find out they smoke in none-smoking rooms as some Chinese do not pay attention to English signs and in China few people have habit of checking if a place allows smoking or not before lighting up.

Don¡¯t say ¡°No¡± directly - It is important, during the course of the conversation, to be aware of the speech culture in China i.e. rarely say "no". Instead, you can respond with "I'll look into that" or "I'll see what I can do in this matter", etc..
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