Open Menu

Chinese Business Etiquette Part 1

Gift Giving in China

Giving gifts is a common Chinese custom and people visiting China for business should be ready for this and also use it to their advantage. Getting advice on doing this properly from a friend or colleague who is a Chinese is invaluable, however, below are some simple guidelines:

Normally, if a group has a single gift, their gift should be presented to the leader or the chief person of a Chinese organization. Example: The gift should be presented to the lead of the Chinese delegation from the lead of the Canadian delegation and vice versa.

Giving of gifts takes place at a banquet or at the end of an introductory meeting. The delegates who are visiting China are expected to give their gifts to their hosts and vice versa. This should be considered while preparing to make a trip or to receive delegates.

When giving or receiving something of value, one should always do this with two hands. While giving a gift to a Chinese, it is important to know that the recipient may refuse to receive the gift at first and this is very common in China hence as a giver, you should persist and eventually the recipient will accept. The gifts are not opened after receiving.

It is not a must that the gift should be too expensive because what you receive normally has a strong local association that is a local identity hence pride to the giver.

Tips about what to give:

  • Since Chinese do love food, a food basket would be a good gift.
  • Knives, scissors or cutting utensils symbolize the severing of the relationship so you should not give them as gifts.
  • Clocks, straw sandals and handkerchiefs are associated with funerals and death meaning you should not give them as gifts.
  • Never give flowers as they associate them with funerals.
  • Don’t wrap the gifts in blue, white or black paper.
  • Eight is a lucky number while four is an unlucky number, when you give eight of something; it always brings luck to the recipient.

Chinese Business Etiquette Part 2
Chinese Business Etiquette Part 3