Chinese Business Etiquette

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China, an emerging economy with tremendous business potential, is the new hot spot for global trade. In order to be successful in this market, it is essential to follow appropriate Chinese business etiquette.

Punctuality is highly valued in the Chinese business culture. To be late to a meeting or appointment is considered extremely rude. It is best to arrive a few minutes early to meetings to show proper respect for the other party’s time. Make sure to factor in traffic when coordinating meeting times.

The Chinese are group minded. They recognize title and rank in business dealings. You will be addressed by your formal title in order of seniority, and you should do the same for your Chinese business partners. Never use a given name unless invited to do so. The leader of the Chinese delegation will speak first and lower ranking associates will not speak unless invited to do so. This technique allows you to clearly see with whom the decision powers lies. They will expect the same from you. Failure to clearly designate the leader in your group will cause confusion and annoyance.

Body language is also important in Chinese business negotiations. Traditionally, Chinese bow when they receive guests, but more frequently they have embraced the Western style of shaking hands. Shaking hands, however, is the only form of physical contact that is appropriate. Never give a slap on the back or a friendly pat on the arm, as this is seen as rude and overly aggressive.