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Business and Social Etiquette In China

Public conduct

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The Chinese will nod or bow slightly as an initial greeting. Handshakes are also popular, but wait for your Chinese counterpart to initiate the gesture.

You may be greeted with applause as a sign of welcome. In turn, you should respond by applauding back.

Avoid making expansive gestures and using unusual facial expressions.

Acknowledge the most senior person in a group first.

Smiling is not as noticeable in China, since there is a heavy emphasis on repressing emotion.

Hand gestures

The Chinese do not use their hands when speaking, and will only become annoyed with a speaker who does. Some hand gestures, however, are necessary:

  • Use your whole hand rather than your index finger to point.
  • The Chinese, especially those who are older and in positions of authority, dislike being touched by strangers.
  • Members of the same sex may hold hands in public.
  • Do not put your hands in your mouth, as it is considered vulgar. Consequently, when in public, avoid biting your nails, removing food from your teeth, and similar practices.



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