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China / Image / Face / Maintain / Relations / When Doing Business

Better not turn down a smoke

You are very likely to be offered cigarettes by your Chinese friends or associates on a daily basis. In China, cigarettes have an extra value of improving social and business relations. Deals can be sealed with a handshake and a pack of cigarettes. The give-and-take of cigarettes represents a kind of semaphore. Declining a cigarette can be taken as an insult. The person might be embarrassed and lose face. As for non-smokers, just tell people politely that you don’t smoke. If they insist on it, you can take the cigarette and put it behind your ear.

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Active traveller with a love for Asian food and Japanese anime.