Business Etiquette In China

Foreigners wishing to conduct business in China have many possibilities, but to make the most of them, they must first learn Chinese business etiquette. China business etiquette is outlined here.


First impressions matter everywhere. It's crucial to act appropriately while meeting a prospective Chinese business partner or consumer.

In China, business cards are exchanged while attending a professional meeting. Even if WeChat might render it obsolete, business cards are still crucial in China.

Business cards are an extension of the individual, thus they should be respected. Take it with both hands, demonstrate you've read it, and lay it on the table during the meeting. When you're done, put it away safely.

In China, a small bow and clasped hands are more usual than a handshake. Prepare for a softer handshake. A solid handshake and lengthy eye contact might be challenging in China.


If you survive the initial meeting and the business connection continues, your Chinese counterpart may ask you to a banquet (or lunch). While the meal may appear like a time of enjoyment, Chinese business etiquette is at play.

In China, business dinner seating is important. Those unfamiliar with the details shouldn't remember them. Your business dinner host will seat you. To avoid offending others, wait to be seated.

Same goes with mealtime. In Chinese culture, there is a seniority level for eating first. Wait till others eat before you do.

Also, avoid these social faux pas. This is only done during funerals and is bad luck. Tapping your chopsticks on your bowl is considered begging.

Expect small conversation throughout the lunch, with business barely mentioned at the conclusion, if at all. Building trust, or guanxi, is vital in Chinese business etiquette. This is done via non-business-related talks between the parties.

Ending a meal involves two things. First, don't clean your plate. Your host may not have ordered enough food. Your host will pay for supper if you're invited. Offering to pay or splitting the bill might be difficult.


In China, businesspeople often exchange presents. Gift giving is a minefield of Chinese business etiquette, while it may strengthen relationships.

Some presents are unwelcome. Watches or clocks are wonderful gifts in Western culture. This is taboo in Chinese culture. In Mandarin, "donate a clock" means "visit a funeral." When offering a gift to a Chinese person, avoid mentioning death. Gift booze and fruit.

Don't unwrap gifts in front of the givers. It's rude until ordered to do so.


If you've gotten this far in China business, you'll soon confront discussions. This frustrates many individuals conducting business in China.

Be patient. Try not to hurry Chinese business partners.

Expect no simple answers. Answers to yes/no or set-number questions are typically roundabout. This is because it's socially difficult in Chinese culture to deliver a firm no. In such cases, it's advisable to quietly note people's responses and interpret them negatively.

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