Give/Receive Business Card & Gifts in China with Both Hands

When given and accepting any objects (such as gifts or business cards) with both hands, it shows you are fully interested and dedicated to receive the object. This custom is relevant in China, but also in many other Asian countries.

For example, business cards are also given with both hands and thumbs up. When you’re the receiver, also accept it with both hands.

An often made mistake is to directly hide the card away. This is considered rude. The best thing is to study the card closely for a while and then put it in front of you on the table. Do not play with the card or write any details on the card. Instead, just take a careful look to remember the name and the background of the receiver.

accepting objects with both hands

Do not throw cards across table. This is considered to be very rude and disrespectful. Always handle the business card with great care and respect. After you finish the conversation pick it up and take it with you. Do not put it in your pocket directly!

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Every time you visit a new place, family and friends expect you to bring souvenirs or popularly known as “pasalubong” from the place you visited, like food, shirts, keychains, etc. This makes them feel like they have also been to that place. This is also very common to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from whom families expect what is called “package” which could include international brands of shampoos, chocolates, or anything that could only be found in that foreign country. This is very common during Christmas season and New Year.

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Walking home after a wake/funeral

Never go straight home when coming from a wake/funeral. It is believed that if you go straight home the spirit of the deceased will follow you and torment you. We do what is called “pagpag”, we go another place before going home to ward off the spirit.

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Say goodbye to clients

Do not wave your client goodbye at the door. Always walk them to the elevator and walk back after the elevator door closes. For business partners you have been known for a long time, walk them to their car in the parking lot and leave only after their car makes the first turn.

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Check your suppliers business

For the last couple decades, China has become the hottest destination of sourcing. As a buyer, you definitely have to know about your products, know general rules, but that’s not enough, if you want to source in China. In my opinion, such things are important: 1. Business rules in China; 2. Due diligence; 3. IP protection. Rule No. 1 is: CHECK YOUR SUPPLIER’S BUSINESS LICENSE. In China, Business License is like ID card or passport of an individual, it’s certificate of identity.

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Importance of Guanxi

When doing business, Chinese attach great importance to “Guanxi”, which is the private relationship with the partners. So please keep in touch with your Chinese friends by making phone calls with them to have a talk. This shows that they are important in your mind. Building a harmonious relationship will help you a lot when you want to do business with them.

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Guanxi is the key to opportunities

Chinese people don’t like to do business with strangers, instead, they believe in “relations after business”. Therefore, to sign your first contract with your Chinese counterparts might require months of work, negotiation and guanxi building. The Chinese term guanxi, similar to networking, is the key to minimizing the obstacles and opening doors when doing business in China. An intermediary is very crucial when you need the introduction to an organization or individual. Guanxi can be created by hosting banquets, exchanging favors and sending gifts. A wide guanxi is always the key to opportunities.

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Use formal titles

When you are having a meeting with your Chinese associates, always address them by titles. i.e. Director Wu, Chairman Chen. If you don’t know somebody yet, just start with “xian sheng” or “xiao jie,” which means Mister or Miss/Mrs in Chinese. It is very important to keep in mind someone’s family name, which comes before the first name of a Chinese person. ( As in “Yao Ming”,“Yao” is the family name.)


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Focus on long term business

When you want to do business with a Chinese businessman or company always focus on a long term agreement. Chinese do not like the feeling that they only have the chance to have a short business agreement with you or your agency. When talking or doing presentations always make it look like your business could last for years. But also you should keep in mind that short business is never a success with Chinese. It always is a long term relation.

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Food is Shared

When you are in China or taking meals with Chinese, please don’t mind if all the people at the same table share same dishes by using their own chopsticks, without common chopsticks or spoon. Some people may also offer you food to show their hospitality, but by using their own chopsticks. It is not sanitary to some extent, but it is Chinese style of sharing food.

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Meet your business partner in person by picking them up

If your friends come from somewhere else to work with you, please try to meet him at the railway station or the airport at his arrival. Chinese people will feel honored if you come yourself. Thus they will be more devoted to you. If you fail to do so, please ask your subordinate to go for you and make an apology to your friend at the next time you meet.


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