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Chinese etiquette and customs in China

Chinese meeting Etiquette

  • Greetings are usually formal and the oldest person is always greeted first.
  • Handshakes are the most common form of greeting with foreigners.
  • Many Chinese will bend a little and look towards the ground when greeting someone.
  • Address the person by a title and their surname. If they want to move to a first-name basis, they will tell you themselves which name to use.
  • The Chinese have a tremendous sense of humour. They can even laugh at themselves if they have a comfortable relationship with the other person.

Gift Giving Etiquette

  • In general, gifts are given at Chinese New Year, weddings, births and more recently at birthdays.
  • Chinese are food lovers and a basket full of nice and healthy food will be a great gift.
  • Things that includes cutting utensils, for example, scissors or knives will never work as a gift for any Chinese as they consider it as the severing of the relationship
  • Do not give scissors, knives or other cutting utensils as they indicate the split of the relationship.
  • Chinese associate clocks, handkerchiefs and straw sandals with death and funerals and therefore these cannot be given as gifts.
  • Do not give flowers, as many Chinese associate these with funerals as well.
  • Chinese do not prefer gifts wrapped in white, blue or black wrapping sheet.
  • Four is an unlucky number so do not give four of anything. Eight is the luckiest number, so giving eight of something brings luck to the recipient.
  • Always present gifts with two hands.
  • Gifts are not supposed to be opened when received.
  • Due to etiquettes, gifts may be refused thrice before they are accepted.

Dining Etiquette

  • The Chinese end up for entertainment at public places instead being in their homes, especially when they are accompanied with foreigners.
  • It is a matter of great honour if you are invited over at their house. If due to any reason you have to refuse, it is considered well mannered and polite to explain the problem so that your actions are not taking as a disrespectful act.
  • Reach on time.
  • This is of high etiquettes to remove shoes when you enter their house.
  • Bring a small gift for the host family.
  • Eat well to express that you are enjoying the food!
  • Table manners:
    • Chinese food is incomplete without chopsticks, therefore, learn to use them.
    • Wait until you are told where to sit. If you are the guest of honour, you might be asked to sit on a chair facing the door.
    • Let the host begin to eat first.
    • Try to taste everything that the host offers you.
    • Try and avoid eating the last piece from the serving dish.
    • Check if other people need something that falls near you. Help them with it.
    • It is considered well mannered if you keep the chopsticks back to the chopsticks rest while taking breaks in eating, while drinking or while speaking.
    • Let the host offers the first toast.
    • Never put the bones in your bowl. Put them on the table or any other bowl that is used for this purpose.
    • Hold the food bowl near your mouth while eating.
    • Do not feel weird or disgusting if a Chinese makes sounds while eating.
    • Do not be offended if a Chinese person makes slurping or burping sounds; it simply a signal to show that they are enjoying their food.
    • There are no strict rules about finishing all the food in your bowl.


Tipping Etiquette in China

Tipping is becoming more common with time. The younger workers tend to be more comfortable with tipping now, although older workers still think of it as an insult. It will be sufficient to leave some coins for a tip.



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