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 studentsโ€™ 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 โ€“ 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 youโ€™d want is to upset your new friends by writing them a thank you letter in red ink! ๐Ÿ™ˆ

Avoid using the number 4 

The number four is considered unlucky because it sounds a lot like the word for โ€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! ๐Ÿ’‹

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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