Chinese Business Etiquette: How to Do Business in China

Chinese Business Etiquette: How to Do Business in China

Business & Economics,Chinese Culture

Chinese Business etiquette is important to understand if you’re planning on doing business in China, or with China.

Different regions and countries around the world have their own business culture.  So it’s no surprise that China has its own unique business culture. In this article, we’ll be going over some crucial things to be aware of in the Chinese business world.


Chinese Business Etiquette: Mind your body language

Even outside of the world of business, being overly expressive is not always well received in Chinese culture. When in a business meeting with Chinese clients, make sure you are well poised and avoid any dramatic hand gestures. In addition, make sure you avoid any unnecessary body contact beyond handshakes and greetings. Lastly, never point with your fingers, especially your index. Always motion to objects using an open palm.  Make sure to read our previous article about the 5 gestures you should avoid in China.

Chinese Business Etiquette: Don’t be afraid of small talk

Although there are rigid rules about body language, there’s no need to limit yourself when it comes to small talk. As long as you avoid any political or personal topics, small talk is always encouraged. The small talk may seem boring but it’s a great exercise in relationship building.  However, if you’re asked a question keep the response positive, but short.

Chinese Business Etiquette: Hand your business card carefully

Some things in the business world are universal. No matter where you go for business it’s likely that you’ll have to exchange business cards. China is no different. However, there’s a small catch. There is a certain method and order to giving someone your business card. When handing over a business card make sure you use both hands. If you are exchanging business cards as a team, then you must hand your business cards in rank order. If your team does not operate in this way, then you can assemble yourself in terms of age or those most important to your business operation.

Chinese Business Etiquette: Enter in order

Just as your team will have to exchange business cards in order of rank. When entering a meeting you must enter the room in rank order. This means that the senior members of the team would go first. This is to establish to your Chinese counterpart who on your team has the post power at the negotiation table. So always pay attention to who is entering the room first and do your best to make a good impression. Also, when introducing yourself you must state your title and then your last name. Don’t try to be overly familiar as this will appear unprofessional.

Chinese Business Etiquette: The right way to give a gift

Outside of the meeting room, gifting is a great form of relationship building within Chinese culture. However, gifting can have negative implications when it comes to Chinese business culture. This is because, legally,  a gift could also be a bribe. So avoid any extravagant gifts before or during a negotiation. If you really want to give a gift then some acceptable items are fine pens or goods that represent your country.

If you want to read more about this topic, then read our article about how to start a business in China.

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