Business Etiquette in China


Table of Contents

In this article, we provide knowledge about the business etiquette in China:

  • Business communication protocols
  • Business meeting protocolsDoing-business-in-China--HROne
Cross-country business involves dealing with men and women from varied cultures. It is good to be informed about your business partner’s cultural norms beforehand to restrict any negative impact on your business. The most important thing is to take cultural taboos seriously to avoid offending others.

With the rapid economic changes brought on by economic globalization, more and more foreign businesses have entered and continue to enter the successful Chinese market. This write-up will help foreigners to understand the Chinese business culture in a better way. We hope that these recommendations will make it easier to understand the culture and start a business in China.

Business communication protocols

1) The concept of face is one of the key aspects of Chinese culture. A Chinese person always wants to save face, never lose it. Giving face (i.e. giving due respect) is a very important concept in China. You must give the appropriate respect to a person as per rank and seniority.
2) To avoid loss of face, Chinese people are very careful about strong negative statements. Recognize that certain phrases mean NO. They include “it is inconvenient”, “I am not sure” and “maybe”.
3) Guanxi – In Chinese, the development of long-term business relationships is referred to as Guanxi. Guanxi has always been a critical part of doing business in China.
4) Knowing the popular Chinese superstitions and beliefs will help in understanding the social life of China. For e.g. the number 8 is considered the luckiest number whilst the number 4 is considered unlucky. Similarly, red and gold are considered auspicious colors while black and white are inauspicious.
5) Writing dates ‘ The Chinese write dates in YYYY-MM-DD format. If you do write a date in numbers, list the year first, then the month, then the day, for example: 2011.08.11.
6) Names – The Chinese always state their family name first, followed by the first name.

Business meeting protocols

1) Business cards are considered very important and are exchanged during the initial introduction. Cards should be received and offered with both hands.
2) Importance of time – The Chinese view punctuality as a virtue. Therefore, it is always better to arrive for meetings on time or slightly early. Arriving late is an insult and could negatively affect your relationship.
3) Unless you know for sure that your business counterpart can speak English well, it is important that you bring along your own interpreter as most business meetings in China are carried out in their native language; English has not yet used widely. An interpreter is vital to avoid problems arising from lack of clear communication or miscommunication.
4) Building business relationships in China takes time. Patience in developing connections will help you succeed in the Chinese market.
5) Women in business – Western businesswomen are treated no differently to businessmen, and similarly respect is given to seniority and rank.
6) Appearance – Subtle colors are the norm. Avoid something very loud or super flashy.

How HROne can be beneficial to your business

HROne is a one-stop solutions provider for foreign companies who want to do business in China. HROne can provide bilingual services to its clients ‘ both in English and Chinese.

Hire an employee for your business through HROne’s China PEO service, made for companies not having a legal entity in China.

HROne’s service portfolio also includes payroll management solutions, handling the total employee benefits for your company, handling relocation and visa for your company’s expatriate employees, and providing legal support.

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