Doing Business in China

Originally posted 2018-07-12 5:32:17

By Diana Chan |


When conducting business in China, it’s important to maintain certain etiquette not only to be respectful of who you’re working with but also to ensure that the business relationship thrives.

In China, certain qualities are highly valued: saving face, respect for elders and ranking, modesty, loyalty, and patience. When conducting business, it is important to send someone of high rank; otherwise, it could be seen as an insult. When entering a meeting, the highest ranked person usually enters the room first and will often sit next to the most important guest. You should address the other party by his or her professional or government title in the organization (i.e. Chairman, Director, Manager) instead of Mr. or Ms. When exchanging business cards, they should be presented with two hands and given to each person according to their rank, the highest rank being given the card first.  Similar to American business culture, punctuality is of the utmost importance. Being late can be seen as an insult.

A contract in China’s corporate culture is different than in the United States or other countries in that it is not binding and subject to changes and re-negotiations.

During a business meal, it’s important to try every dish if you’re not allergic and to eat most of your food.  The check is not split; rather, the host, or the one who invites, pays the bill for everyone.

Don’t show up empty-handed. If bringing multiple gifts, give the gifts by seniority—the highest ranking person first.  This person should also be given a more valuable gift compared to junior level persons.

Be mindful of the Chinese calendar and significant holidays such as Chinese New Year when scheduling meetings. Also, avoid discussing sensitive and controversial topics regarding Chinese politics.


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