If you are planning on moving to China anytime soon, you are probably pretty aware of the culture differences and already know some of the basic things. However, if your mind is running scared with thoughts of managing in China and finding a way to fit in, you can read this article and learn some of the things that you should or should not do, and some more about the Chinese culture. So let’s start!
1. Do slurp and burp
However rude and disgusting slurping may sound to you, it is pretty normal in China! In fact, slurping your noodles is considered good manners because that implies that you like the food. The same thing happens with the burping, when that happens, the chef or the host takes it as a compliment and a sign of a well prepared meal so do not be surprised if that happens.
2. Don’t fold your checks
In China, a simple coin is worth more than a thousand dollar check. In fact, they don’t accept them folded at all, so be careful to preserve it and give it to the sales assistant unfolded.
3. Do respect their business cards
This may seem strange to you, but there is actually a way to do this. When somebody gives you a credit card, what is the first thing you do with it? If the answer is: “I put it in my pocket”, then you got the wrong answer! It is exactly by doing so that you may show disrespect to another person. What you should do is lay it on the table in front of you (if you are sitting down), or (if you are standing) hold it with both hands until you are out of their sight.
4. Do haggle
There is nothing strange with haggling, some cultures have embraced it more and some less than others, but in China, do not expect to get a good price if you do not haggle! Even your local hairdresser may tell you one price today and another the next day, not because he wants to steal money from you or overcharge you, but because he is actually expecting you to haggle! It will be strange to them if you don’t do that, and you will probably pay a much higher price than you would have if only you did what was expected.
5. Don’t be confused if you become president
Not really, don’t take everything so literally. But yes, apparently, a lot of people have reported being asked to pretend to be a president of some American company or an influential personality. They say that it often happens that some companies or restaurants hire Caucasian people to give speeches or just stand around in order to seem more official and successful for their potential clients. Some people even claim that they were given free drinks in nightclubs just to stick around and look… white, I guess. Try searching for a couple of these bizarre stories online, no matter how strange they sound, they are surprisingly true!
6. Don’t place chopsticks upright
When eating, simply lay down your chopsticks next to your bowl or put them on top of it, but do not place them upright because that is what they do when paying respect and offering food to the deceased.
7. Don’t take no for an answer
In China, when offering a gift to someone, that person will first refuse it a couple of times before eventually accepting it. That is sort of a tradition and simply an adopted way of doing. The gift must first be politely refused, some people even have a rule of doing it three times before accepting, but there is really no rule, just keep trying, smile and be polite.
8. Don’t frown all the time
Nowadays it’s all the rage to display a certain “resting bitch face”, however, it will not get you far in China. Chinese people are generally timid when dealing with strangers and your frown is not helping. In fact, the more you smile and nod or bow a little and seem pleasant, the more likely will they be in the mood to help you and smile and nod or bow back.
9. Don’t point
Pointing is considered rude in some parts of the country; so just in case, no matter where you are, learn how to bring attention to things in the right way. Use your whole hand, with your fingers straight and point at what you want, but do not just use a single finger.
10. Don’t yell at people for spitting in public
Such a thing is actually pretty common in China. There have been several (but not so successful) attempts to reduce the practice, but people seem to ignore them. Get used to seeing this on the streets, in the city transportation, sometimes even indoors.