This indeed can be tricky, choosing the right gifts for your Chinese business associates whom you are looking to form a long-term partnership with. Gift giving is a rather delicate issue in China. There are various unspoken but set norms of gift giving in the country, which you need to rigorously stick to. First and foremost, it is illegal to offer gifts to a government official.
Gifting a business contact is more acceptable. The most preferred gift is a banquet. You will find it curious that quality writing instruments are a favored gift in China. However, the following gifts and/or colors should be avoided since they are considered inauspicious:
* Anything white, blue or black
* Cut flowers
* Straw sandals
* A stork or crane
Do not give any sharp, pointed object as a gift; it symbolizes severing of relations. Also, avoid giving things in sets of four.
The Chinese do not appreciate really entering into a business partnership with strangers. If possible, try to bring into play an intermediary, who enjoys an established relationship with the Chinese counterpart, for the first meeting.
Gifts are a vital way of creating guanxi in China. According to Chinese etiquettes, a person will usually decline an invitation or a gift three times before eventually accepting it. The giver is expected to persist gently so that the gift is accepted. Be sensitive to genuine refusals, and don’t force it on the receiver!
Never present a lofty gift that your Chinese business associate cannot reciprocate in kind, since this would put the latter in an awkward position.
The Chinese people will not open a gift immediately on receiving it. You should follow suit unless the other person insists that you check it. Foreign cigarettes, fine whisky, quality wines, cognac are acceptable as gifts. However, food items as a gift is a strict no-no as it can denote poverty. Wrap gifts tastefully, but again avoid white, blue or black. (Avoid elaborate wrapping.)
Imbibing nuances of Chinese culture and traditions will help you get into the good books. Understanding and following the gift giving formalities is very important or else you will end up offending your Chinese host.