The Chinese way of greeting is a nod or a bow. Bowing is seldom used except in
ceremonies. Handshakes are becoming quite acceptable, but do wait for your
Chinese counterpart to initiate this gesture. Address a person by using his or her
surname, such as Ms. Chan or Mr. Wong. The Chinese family name comes first
and is usually one (1) syllable. For business purposes, it is appropriate to call a
Chinese person by his or her surname with a title, such as “Chairwoman Lee”; or
“Director Chu”. Formality is always a sign of respect.
It is assumed that the first person that enters a room is the head of the group.
Guests are always escorted to their seats. The principal guest should be seated
directly opposite the principal host. When exchanging business cards, hold out
your card using both hands with the writing on the card facing the recipient.
Receive a business card with both hands and review it immediately. It is
inappropriate and discourteous to put someone’s card directly into your pocket
without looking at it.
When invited for dinner, it is polite to sample every dish that is served. Your host
may serve food to your plate. Always leave something on your plate at the end of
the meal, or your host will think that you are still hungry. When inviting Chinese
guests to a party, serve a complete meal rather than only snacks and drinks.
It is quite appropriate to bring a gift to a business meeting or social event. Gifts
indicate that you are interested in building a business relationship. A gift should
always be wrapped in red. Avoid plain black or white paper because these are
mourning colors. Present the gift with both hands. Never give a clock, a
handkerchief, an umbrella, or white flowers (chrysanthemums) as gifts, as all of
these are associated with sorrow and death. Never give sharp objects either, such
as knives or scissors, as they symbolize the cutting of a relationship.