The People's Republic of China, the most populated country in the world, is considered to be the fastest growing economies. China is known as a country of etiquette and ceremonies. The unique character of the Chinese evolved on a strong sense of pride in their ancient history culture and heritage. Getting to know the basic Chinese cultural, ethical and business values is imperative to any organisation wanting to conduct business in China
Key Chinese concepts and values
Guanxi - In literal terms, this central concept in Chinese culture means 'relationships' or 'connections'. Guanxi is a network of elaborate relationships promoting trust and co-operation and for centuries was the main way of accomplishing everyday tasks. Establishing a sincere, supportive relationship based on mutual respect is a fundamental aspect of Chinese culture.
Mian-zi - An important issue that should be considered throughout business interactions with the Chinese is the concept of 'mian-zi' or 'face'. Face is a mark of personal pride and forms the basis of an individual's reputation and social status. In Chinese business culture 'saving face', 'losing face' and 'giving face' are vital for successful business. Causing someone to loose face through public humiliation or inappropriate allocation of respect to individuals within the organization can seriously damage business discussions. On the other hand, praising someone in moderation before their colleagues is a form of 'giving face' and can earn respect, loyalty and aid negotiations.
Keqi - The notion of keqi is based on the amalgamation of two Chinese words, 'ke' meaning 'guest' and 'qi' signifying 'behaviour'. Together, this cultural concept advocates thoughtful, courteous and refined behaviour. In business terms, it is important to demonstrate humility and modesty as exaggerated claims of ability are viewed with suspicion and are likely to be looked into.
Confucianism - The recognized ethical belief system of Confucianism is based on the teachings and writings of the 6 th century BCE philosopher Confucius. Emphasis is placed on the concept of relationships and the elements of responsibility and obligation. This Chinese philosophy remains a vital cultural factor in the development of Chinese society and is still effective in Chinese business culture today in the preservation of surface harmony and collective good.
Etiquette Dos and DON’TS
• When beckoning to someone, wave them over to you with your palm down, motioning to yourself
• If someone gives you a gift, put it aside to open later to avoid appearing greedy.
• Never write anything in red ink unless you’re correcting an exam. Red ink is used for letters of protest.
• Don’t give clocks as gifts. The phrase ‘to give a clock’ in Mandarin sounds too much like ‘attend a funeral’
• Always take your shoes off when entering a Chinese home.
• When meeting a Chinese family, greet the eldest person first as sign of respect.
• Always present things to people with both hands, showing that you are offering is the fullest extent to yourself