China not only stands out from the international crowd for being the world’s most populous country with a massive 1.35 billion population, but also for housing the world’s largest man-made monument, the Great Wall of China (apparently held together by a mortar comprising sticky rice!). It is also the world’s 3rd largest country by area, made up of a diverse and stunning geographical landscape stretching for 3,747,879 sq miles. On top of that, with its incredible ethnic diversity, rich culture, staggering $10 trillion economy (making it the world’s 2nd largest economy after the USA, with an annual increase at 7%) and fast-growing consumer market, it’s hard not to be seduced by the jewels that China has on offer (and that’s just scratching the surface)!
As one of the UK’s largest expanding business markets, it would be a fool’s errand for investors not to invest some time in getting to grips with Chinese business culture and etiquette before embarking on the international business voyage. With numerous cultural pointers with which to acquaint you, here is just the tip of the iceberg: –
Overcoming Business card etiquette
Business cards are as essential to a business meeting in China as air is to breathe!
Master the art of conversation
Chinese business language can be a little mind-boggling to say the least.
Getting to grips with Chinese business mentality
Remember your Scout and Girl Guide motto ‘Be Prepared’. The same applies to a business meeting in China.
Learn how to walk the tightrope of gift giving
Although it has become increasingly commonplace in the world of business, there are many pitfalls as to the correct type and how and when to give and receive the gift. In other words, do your research! One steadfast rule is never offer a gift to a government official; it is looked on as a bribe and therefore illegal!
Lead by example
Hierarchy is of great significance in Chinese business. If their most important person walks in first, be sure that the head of your team mirrors the protocol.
The business greeting game
The most common Chinese greeting is bowing or nodding, although the handshake is used and it is advisable to wait for them to initiate contact.
Dress to impress
Arriving to a business appointment looking like Joseph and his Technicolor dream coat is best avoided if you want to make a good first impression, as colours are considered inappropriate for business attire. Subtlety is key.
Rules of entertainment
Business entertaining entails many conventions such as
There is so much more to the Chinese cultural and business etiquette game, it is worth making sure you go in with the best hand!
By Madeline Prusmann (Project Manager) October 2016