Gift giving etiquettes in China

Before understanding gift giving etiquette or the act of gifting in China, it is important that we understand how Chinese people approach visitors or guests. Let’s get some basic albeit vital information about way of greetings and introductions in the country.

Chinese Gift givingAlso, let’s get some understanding of Chinese culture & Protocol. Confucius, considered China’s greatest sage, is known to have formed a meticulous system of morals, ethics, hierarchy and behavior, setting the framework of rules for all people to deal with each other. Following are the key concepts in following Chinese culture:

Guanxi: The fundamental glue which holds the Chinese society together. The concept of guanxi is about relationships.

Mianxi: It’s about losing or saving face. It’s very important and needs to be considered at all times.

Li: It popularly denotes the art of being courteous and polite.

Keqi: Ke means guest; qi means behavior. It represents modesty and humbleness.

The Chinese generally do not appreciate doing business with strangers. If possible, try to bring in play established relationships, or an intermediary known by both sides, to establish the first contact.

Gifts are an important way of building and creating guanxi in China. Chinese etiquette demands that a person declines an invitation, gift and other offerings three times before accepting it. It’s expected that the giver of a gift will persist, gently, until the same is accepted.

We shall also see how Chinese behave or react when formally introduced to a guest. Understanding these aspects are as important as learning the gift giving etiquettes.

The Chinese people may appear rather unfriendly when being introduced.
They do not like to display excessive emotion.
Make it a point to stand up when being introduced
Remain standing till the introduction is over.
During introduction, the accepted form of greeting is the handshake. They may also nod or slightly bow.

Never present a gift which would make it difficult for the Chinese person to reciprocate in kind. This would put them in a very awkward position and cause a loss of face. Another important gifting etiquette is to be sensitive to genuine refusals.

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