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China Business Etiquette, Culture, & Manners

Chinese etiquette, manners, intercultural information, plus Geert Hofstede dimensions           Etiquette, Manners, and Hofstede analysis for China

China Introduction

China is believed to have the oldest continuous civilization. China has over 4,000 years of verifiable history. Beijing is the capital of China and is the focal point for the country. The official language is standard Chinese, which is derived from the Mandarin dialect. Most business people speak English. There are many dialects in China however there is only one written language.

A Communist form of government rules China. The Chinese government promotes atheism although the constitution guarantees freedom of religion. The Chinese practice a variety of religions, however, Confucianism; despite not being a formal religion is practiced widely throughout the country.

China is the most densely populated county in the world with approximately 1.17 billion people as of 1992. Almost 100 percent of the population are ethnic or Han Chinese. There are strict rules regarding childbirth and each couple is limited to only one child.

 

China Fun Fact

The tradition of digging up "dragon bones" (tortoise and cattle bones) has long been a part of Chinese culture. These bones are often used to predict the future. The bones were inscribed with questions then heated to reveal the answers. The tradition dates back as far as the Bronze Age (around 2100 BC during the Xia dynasty).


Geert Hofstede Analysis for China


The Geert Hofstede analysis for China is similar to that of Hong Kong where Long-term Orientation is the highest-ranking factor. However, the Chinese rank lower than any other Asian country in the Individualism factor. This can be attributed primarily to the Communist rule and its emphasis on a collectivist culture.

Geert Hofstede analysis for China has Long-term Orientation (LTO) the highest-ranking factor (118), which is true for all Asian cultures. This Dimension indicates a society's time perspective and an attitude of persevering; that is, overcoming obstacles with time, if not with will and strength. (see Asian countries graph below).

The Chinese rank lower than any other Asian country in the Individualism (IDV) ranking, at 20 compared to an average of 24. This may be attributed, in part, to the high level of emphasis on a Collectivist society by the Communist rule, as compared to one of Individualism.

The low Individualism ranking is manifest in a close and committed member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.

Of note is China's significantly higher Power Distance ranking of 80 compared to the other Far East Asian countries' average of 60, and the world average of 55. This is indicative of a high level of inequality of power and wealth within the society. This condition is not necessarily forced upon the population, but rather accepted by the society as their cultural heritage. More Geert Hofstede Details

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group

 

Religion in China


* WORLD FACTBOOK 2011

China’s religion is officially designated as Atheist by the State, although the concepts and teachings of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (500BC) are woven into the society at large. Some religious practice is acceptable in China; however, the government sets rigid limits. 


China Interview
(written transcription)

Interview with Wai Chui


Appearance in China

International Business Dress and Appearance  Conservative suits for men with subtle colors are the norm.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women should avoid high heels and short sleeved blouses. The Chinese frown on women who display too much.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Subtle, neutral colors should be worn by both men and women.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Casual dress should be conservative as well.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Men and women can wear jeans. However, jeans are not acceptable for business meetings.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Revealing clothing for women is considered offensive to Chinese businessmen.

 

Behavior & Manners in China

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not use large hand movements. The Chinese do not speak with their hands. Your movements may be distracting to your host.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Personal contact must be avoided at all cost. It is highly inappropriate for a man to touch a woman in public.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not point when speaking.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  To point do not use your index finger, use an open palm.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  It is considered improper to put your hand in your mouth.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Avoid acts that involve the mouth.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Gift giving is a very delicate issue in China - See international business gift giving.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  It is illegal to give gifts to government official however; it has become more commonplace in the business world.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  It is more acceptable to give gifts either in private or to a group as a whole to avoid embarrassment.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  The most acceptable gift is a banquet.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Quality writing pens as considered favored gifts.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  The following gifts and/or colors are associated with death and should not be given:

  • Clocks

  • Straw sandals

  • A stork or crane

  • Handkerchiefs

  • Anything white, blue or black

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Always arrive on time or early if you are the guest.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not discuss business at meals.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not start to eat or drink prior to the host.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  As a cultural courtesy, you should taste all the dishes you are offered.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Sample meals only, there may be several courses.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Never place your chopsticks straight up in your bowl. By placing your sticks upright in your bowl your will remind your host of joss sticks which connotes death.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not drop the chopsticks it is considered bad luck.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not eat all of your meal. If you eat all of your meal, the Chinese will assume you did not receive enough food and are still hungry.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Women do not usually drink at meals.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Tipping is considered insulting, however the practice is becoming more common.

wb01542_.gif (729 bytes) More information on International Gift Giving

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Considering sending a gift to someone in Chile? See gifts to China

 

Communications in China

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Bowing or nodding is the common greeting; however, you may be offered a handshake. Wait for the Chinese to offer their hand first.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Applause is common when greeting a crowd; the same is expected in return.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Introductions are formal. Use formal titles.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Often times Chinese will use a nickname to assist Westerners.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Being on time is vital in China.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Appointments are a must for business.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Contacts should be made prior to your trip.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Bring several copies of all written documents for your meetings.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  The decision making process is slow. You should not expect to conclude your business swiftly.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Many Chinese will want to consult with the stars or wait for a lucky day before they make a decision.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Present and receive cards with both hands.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Never write on a business card or put it in your wallet or pocket. Carry a small card case.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  The most important member of your company or group should lead important meetings. Chinese value rank and status.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Develop a working knowledge of Chinese culture.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Allow the Chinese to leave a meeting first.

 

 

 Chinese Resources

International Business Center Newsletter
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International Career Center - Information on international careers and jobs

China Web NOTE: slow download

U.S. Factbook on China

China Teaching Net

AsianNet China information page

Cultural Considerations - Working in China

Beijing's Weekly Expat Listings

 

 

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