Busіness Сulture In China: Ultimate Guide

When establishing business relationships with partners, you need to be properly prepared to do business in China cultural differences. Their culture is so different from that of Europe that it is easy to make a mistake, and what seems tactful to you may be perceived by the Chinese as an insult. For the Chinese, in the first place it is the need to keep their names, without which further negotiations are out of the question. The following are the essential pieces of information about cultural differences in China business, knowledge of which will help you prepare for negotiations with partners.

  • The Chinese are very attached to traditional solutions, and therefore, when making a delegation to this country from among your employees, consider their age and gender.

  • It would be nice to know the age of the people with whom you have an appointment and delegate representatives holding similar positions, as well as those of a similar age and gender. This is especially important because, in China, wisdom is equated with age. Therefore, senior positions are occupied by older people; this is one of the significant cultural differences in China’s business.

  • It should also be borne in mind that establishing business contacts with Chinese companies is a rather lengthy and painstaking process. It can start with meetings with lower-level staff before someone who makes decisions meets you.

  • Punctuality is another important quality to keep in mind for doing business in China cultural differences. The Chinese place great importance on punctuality and equate it with respect for another person. Meetings usually start with an exchange of business cards, so you should consider preparing double-sided cards, such as Anglo-Chinese ones, beforehand.

Cultural differences in China business 

Before starting a business in this country, you should pay attention to cultural differences. In order not to offend your Chinese partners, read our tips.

  • Greetings. In China, as in other Asian countries, it is essential that the greeting occurs without the need to establish physical contact. This is because the Chinese avoid physical contact of any kind, especially in the presence of people with whom they are meeting for the first time. 
  1. Do not touch them, do not hug or pat them on the shoulder. Also, you should not stand too close to them because the Chinese have a very developed sense of a personal zone in communication. Violation of this zone and looking too long and intent directly into the eyes causes shyness, confusion, and embarrassment.

  2.  When you are dating someone much older than you or more important in the company’s hierarchy, you should tilt your entire upper body forward. But the influence of Western culture on business relationships has led to the nod and bow being accompanied by a handshake. Regardless of the form of greeting, the key is its order, which should take into account seniority, that is, the position of a person, determined by his position and age. Therefore, it will be very tactless to greet the participants of the meeting in random order. Establishing relations with the Chinese also should not seek to close the distance.

  3. The only correct form of address is the use of the title and surname. It should also be remembered that the surname (usually monosyllabic) is placed first, followed by the first name (one or two syllables) on business cards. After you have met partners from China and want to introduce new people to them, you need to remember that in addition to the surname and first name, you need to name the position and full name of the institution or company they represent; these details are important for doing business in China cultural differences.
  • Business relationships and negotiations. Establishing business relationships in China is a slow process as Asians attach great importance to creating a platform for mutual trust and the negotiations themselves will not be easy either. 
  1. The Chinese have their favorite negotiating methods; for example, they try to manipulate their feelings of guilt.

  2. Moreover, if they are not interested in completing the negotiations, they will not say no openly. In such a situation, evidence of a lack of interest can be a sudden and unexpected tightening of the negotiating position and a lack of willingness to make concessions to force the other side to break off negotiations.

  3. Also, some may be surprised by the frequent breaks during which no one says anything. Such moments of silence are an integral part of business culture in China and should not be interrupted in any way.
  • The informal part of the meetings. After the end of the official part, for example, during a meeting in a restaurant, the Chinese show themselves from a completely different side. Then they become more open and sociable. 
  1. However, do not expect them to be invited home. Regardless of where you are invited, it will be absolute tactlessness to appear ahead of time. For the Chinese, this is a sign of weakness and evidence of the loss of face by the guest.

  2. A very characteristic feature of friendly meetings in China is the need to propose toasts. Almost every glass raising should be accompanied by the proclamation of a short toast or eye contact with another person with whom you are drinking alcohol.

  3. It should also be remembered that you should not eat everything off the plate because the owner must add the next portion of food every time you empty it. Therefore, in China, you need to leave a little food on a plate or a drink in a glass; these are important features of cultural differences in China business
  • Exchange gifts. In China, there is a tradition of exchanging gifts with business partners; these are important in doing business because of China’s cultural differences. However, gifts should be symbolic so as not to cause embarrassment. 
  1. If you do not have gifts for everyone present, they should not be given at all.

  2. When handing out souvenirs, start with the oldest or highest-ranking person and end with the lowest and lowest ranking person.

  3. Gifts must be given with both hands and be prepared for the recipient to refuse to accept the gift. It is a part of a ceremony that has arisen from humility and should not be neglected and given over again.

  4. When preparing gifts, avoid four-piece sets (in China, the number 4 is considered unlucky and associated with death). Also, avoid gifts of white, which is the color of death and mourning. But red and gold or yellow are welcome. It is not recommended to give a watch to the Chinese, as in China, they are associated with measuring the time remaining until death.

As you can see, Chinese culture can be illogical, unexpected, and contradictory. Knowing these nuances will help you build a business relationship and leave a good opinion of yourself.


What is the main culture in China?

The Chinese are very fond of ceramics, music, and the philosophy of different ethnic groups. There is no mainstream culture in China, as there are 56 recognized ethnic groups in that country.

How does Chinese business culture differ from Western business culture?

The main difference is in the mentality. It is customary for Americans to spend more time on personal identities, and the Chinese value collective identity.

What is the working day in China?

The standard working day for workers in this country is a maximum of 44 hours per week. Employers must pay for overtime and should not exceed 36 hours per week.

How to greet the Chinese?

Many modern companies understand the differences in cultures and treat them normally. In China, it is customary to worship in greeting.

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