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How to Follow Proper Business Etiquette in China

Like any other country, China has its own professional mores. If you're looking to gain the business of your Chinese counterparts, it's important to remember your manners.


  • Step 1: Start with small talk at a meeting or lunch. Chinese business relationships are more personal than most. They like to know all about you before they will consider you a business partner.
  • TIP: If you go out to eat with your Chinese associates, expect to be offered alcohol. You may, however, politely decline a drink and toast with a clear carbonated beverage.
  • Step 2: Give a gift to the people you are meeting with, and make sure that the best gift goes to the person with the most seniority and highest rank. Choose gifts that are unique to your home state, but if you're meeting with a large group of people, products from your company, such as pens and calendars, will do. If you play your cards right, you might end up with the gift of a new business partner.
  • FACT: The average American consumes 10 times more energy than the average Chinese consumer.
  • Step 3: Find your seat in the meeting room. Seating arrangements are very important in China, so there will probably be a seat reserved for you. Don't just sit anywhere.
  • TIP: Take at least 10 seconds to read over business cards that are handed to you. Never just tuck them quickly away.
  • TIP: Expect meetings, banquets, and other gatherings to end when they are scheduled to end. If it was supposed to be two hours, that means two hours.
  • Step 4: Use a person's business title when introducing them. Their surname should come first, followed by their title.
  • TIP: Take note that in China surnames and given names are switched. For example, with the name Li Ming, Li is the last name and Ming is the first name.
  • Step 5: Bring plenty of business cards with you to pass out to everyone at the meeting. When you give someone your business card, hand it to them using both hands.
  • Step 6: Show up on time for meetings. In China, it is considered an insult for a guest to arrive late.

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