Written by Daryna Lohvinova
For many Europeans, China is not just another country – it is a completely different world! People who first come to China not only face differences in language, geography, politics, etc. – many experience a real culture shock. Many Chinese customs and habits are rooted in the ancient past of the country and are based on various kinds of prejudice and superstition. From the outside – from the point of view of Europeans – they are completely devoid of any common sense and sometimes seem a little wild to non-Chinese.
However, for people wishing to work with China and the Chinese, knowledge of some basic Chinese traditions and norms of behavior will be very useful, as it will allow, as they say, “save face” in front of this peculiar people and feel less discouraged by the “strange” behavior of the Chinese. It should be borne in mind that now in China there are a lot of changes, including in the cultural life of society. Therefore, it is possible that some of the phenomena described below are manifested less clearly and more rarely. And some Western traditions are replacing them.
What should foreigners planning to visit China prepare for?
The first thing every person who comes to China needs to know about is the existence of the Great Firewall of China, or “Golden Shield”. This is an information barrier that blocks public access to many Western Internet resources in mainland China. Many foreigners, visiting China for the first time, do not understand the scale of this phenomenon: all the usual applications and sites – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, WhatsApp, Wikipedia, and so on – are blocked, without a special VPN program even Google is inaccessible.
VPN becomes the solution for a while. But free applications are constantly blocked, software needs to be bought. As ironic as it sounds, in China you need a VPN to buy a VPN. But even here there are pitfalls. Firstly, the program “eats” a lot of traffic, because of it the phone quickly sits down and the network is often lost. Secondly, a legally purchased VPN can only be used individually. If a person hands out a username and password to friends,
the authorities may detect illegal activity, and trouble will follow.
Greetings and introduction
In general, the Chinese people are sociable and friendly. Walking up and talking to a stranger on the street is not considered surprising.
When they meet, the Chinese shake hands, especially with foreigners, or greet each other with a slight nod, perhaps a nod from the shoulders rather than from the waist like the Japanese. The oldest should say hello first.
The most common address in the business world, indicating a special respect for a person – “master” or “mistress” in front of the name. It is also encouraged to use the official position or title of the Chinese, followed by the surname. On “you” refer to the elderly or unfamiliar people. Name calls are only common among close relatives or friends of about the same age.
Business etiquette in China
For any Chinese, the prestige of the company in which he works takes precedence over his personal success. In China, due to the unseemly act of one of the members of the group – a family, a work collective or a public organization – it is possible to lose the reputation of the entire group, therefore, in any situation, a Chinese person tries to behave with dignity.
In China, it is not customary to argue with elders in terms of age, rank, rank and position. This will be perceived not as a gross violation of etiquette, but as a national tradition as a whole.
If you are just going to establish business relations with the Chinese side, it is better to use the services of intermediaries who can officially represent your company and act as guarantors of transactions and guarantors. The Chinese always strive to make sure of the trustworthiness of the companies wishing to work with them, so a good recommendation about your company will be very appropriate.
How do the Chinese people feel about gifts?
The Chinese are usually very happy with the gifts that foreigners give them. It is worth considering, however, that the gift must necessarily be from the country from which the foreign guest came. It must be something unique or practical that your Chinese partners can never buy in China.
For the Chinese, it is considered completely normal to refuse gifts two or three times (sometimes quite emphatically, almost indignantly) before accepting them. A Chinese man who has accepted a gift “without ceremony” risks looking greedy. Insist that the gifts are “very small” and that you will be offended if they are not accepted. You can be immediately given back – as a sign of great respect for you and future relationships. If the gift is wrapped, it is considered impolite to unfold it right in front of the presenter, unless he or she insists on it.
Use the traditional colors of luck – red and gold – for gift wrapping. Avoid white and black colors that represent mourning.
Also, the Chinese consider it appropriate to give gifts in pairs or even in several pieces. Therefore, if you take oranges as a gift, take the “lucky” amount – six or eight, but not an odd amount. The host will return a few (in the case of oranges) to you as a sign of sharing the good fortune with you.
The only gift to avoid giving to the Chinese is a watch. In Cantonese, the clock sounds like “to go to a funeral” and this gift can be considered as a wish for death to a person. Also, avoid giving sharp objects as this is seen as a threat to friendship. Flowers are traditionally given to people in hospital (or being discharged), as well as for funerals. However, these traditions change over time, but there is still a custom to give people flowers in even quantities.
And a few more important points:
- Foreigners should avoid giving Chinese alcoholic beverages, even very expensive and elite ones.
- If you admire a trinket in the store for a long time and loudly in front of your partners, it is very likely that they can give you this or a similar thing when they part.
- Chinese learners of the Russian language will find it very useful as a gift an explanatory dictionary of the Russian language or a book by a famous Russian writer.
- Cigarettes cannot be considered a gift.
The Chinese are extremely distrustful of business, so finding a good business partner in this country is quite difficult. The fact is that any business proposal from a European is perceived by the Chinese as a trick proposal that needs to be calculated and turned in their favor. Consulting or translation firms that have been operating in this market for many years can be a good helper in finding business partners in China. Their experience can become a guide of your intentions and protect you from professional swindlers, of which there are more than enough in China.
Travel tips for China:
- Bargaining in the markets and with taxi drivers naturally falls on the fingers. The main thing to know is that the Chinese show numbers differently than the Europeans – they show numbers from 1 to 9 on the fingers of one hand, not two.
- At bus and train stations, no one often speaks English. It is better to write in advance on a piece of paper the name of the destination and the desired time period of departure, this is done using an Internet translator or dictionary. Just get in line at the cashier and hold out a piece of paper. The exact time and price will be shown to you on a computer screen or written on a piece of paper.
- In China, there is censorship on the Internet, to the point that posts on social networks are manually moderated!
Facebook and You tube are banned and unavailable, RenRen is used instead of the first, instead of the second Youku. For instant messages, use the QQ network and WeChat. While Google is available, Baidu is far more popular. Vkontakte works without problems.
- Almost all public toilets will not have the familiar toilet. Instead, there will be a floor-standing toilet, familiar to many from our school toilets. You also need to carry toilet paper with you. But tourist toilets have a star rating like hotels.
- 4 – purely unhappy, it comes to the point that houses do not have 4 floors.
8 is a lucky number. Phones of large companies often end in eight.
The main Chinese color is red.
- Chinese is the name for a large group of languages, often mutually incomprehensible. Each city can have its own dialect. The government is trying to lead a campaign to promote a common language – Mandarin or Mandarin. In Hong Kong, Macau, Canton (Guangzhou) and overseas diasporas, the overwhelming majority of the population speaks the Cantonese dialect. One good thing is that all dialects use the same hieroglyphs, which, by the way, are partially used in Japanese as well. So the spelling of the words is one. If true, there are difficulties with the presence of two systems of notation: traditional Chinese characters and simplified Chinese characters. If you do not plan to read ancient texts, the latter will be enough for everyday needs.
- The most common application for the phone is Waygo, which can translate inscriptions on the fly, without the Internet using a camera.Google maps help you not to get lost, and the navigation mode can give you the best route on land transport and tell you which bus to go where, although you need the Internet.A SIM card can be purchased with a passport. Mobile internet is very expensive: 300 MB for 96 RMB per month.
- It is very expensive to wash things in hotels. Street laundries are not easy to find, but dry cleaners can sometimes be found. For urgent orders, there is usually a double mark-up. You can also stay in an apartment – there is almost always a washing machine, and powder can be bought at the nearest store.