Etiquette – China Part II

Happy Friday!

Here’s Part II of Chinese Etiquette:  

The concept of face

The concept of face in Chinese culture is a very complex one, and it’s easy for a foreign traveler to cause an embarrassing situation unknowingly. However, it’s often assumed and accepted that a foreigner does not mean to cause someone to lose face. It’s still better to try and avoid uncomfortable situations for you or your Chinese counterparts. 

  • Avoid behaving in a way that makes someone feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.
  • Do not criticize someone in front of other people.
  • Do not lose your temper, yell at people, or show anger in public.
  • Do not talk too much about yourself, and do not interrupt someone in the middle of a conversation.

Never write in red ink

Red ink is a symbol of protest or criticism, and best saved for teachers correcting students’ homework. Red ink is used to mark the names of criminals condemned to death in official records and tombstones. Red ink is sometimes used to convey bad news – such as somebody passing away or a breakup letter. The best thing you can do is to avoid using red ink altogether, the last thing you’d want is to upset your new friends by writing them a thank you letter in red ink! πŸ™ˆ

Avoid using the number 4 

The number four is considered unlucky because it sounds a lot like the word for β€œdeath” in Chinese. Chinese buildings often lack a fourth floor (just as American buildings sometimes skip the 13th).

Business Cards 

  • Business cards are exchanged after an initial introduction.
  • Have one side of your business card translated into Chinese using simplified Chinese characters that are printed in gold ink since gold is an auspicious color.
  • Your business card should include your title. If your company is the oldest or largest in your country, that fact should be on your card as well.
  • Hold the card in both hands when offering it, the Chinese side facing the recipient.
  • Examine a business card before putting it on the table next to you or in a business card case.
  • Never write on someone’s card unless so directed.

China has a rich heritage of culture, art, and literature dating back to the earliest civilizations, so knowing these simple etiquette tips will be most helpful.  

Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

Sending relaxing weekend vibes! πŸ’‹

Feature photo credit: Vogue China


  1. SimpleSerenity

    I didn’t know one for number 4, that is really interesting. I find China so interesting and it’s definitely country I would love to go to at least once in my life. Lovely post as always dear Ingrid. xx

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