What is your impression of China

Nice to meet you

Dress code in China

Clothes make the man, goes the old adage, and it is as relevant as ever in modern business. In China, too, you should pay attention to the appropriate clothing for business meetings. Your clothes have to be clean and well cut, because if you look casual, the Chinese will automatically assume your business is just as casual - before you even open your mouth.

In the field of new technologies, suits and ties are no longer absolutely necessary, as these are predominantly "young" environments who follow a looser dress code. But when you're talking to bankers, senior managers, or government officials, the dress code is as formal as it is in the West.

Pay particular attention to the symbolism of the colors: the Chinese associate yellow with prosperity, gold with luck and red is used in celebrations. Never write cards or letters with a red pen as it will mean the end of a relationship.

Correct body contact

In contrast to most European cultures, which are used to physical contact, most Chinese people do not like this, especially not when it comes to business matters.

During a business meeting, your gestures and body language should be calm, balanced and controlled, because in China respect is shown to a person who can control himself well. Be formal yet attentive; An overly stiff posture and too little body language can raise doubts among your Chinese business partners. They will suspect that you are trying to trick or withhold something from them.

Typically, a meeting begins and ends with a handshake and, as mentioned in the previous lessons, business cards are exchanged at the beginning.

The most senior Chinese business partner is usually officially introduced by someone else (e.g. the interpreter) and you should give him / her special consideration when greeting and saying goodbye.

Your handshake should be firm and matter-of-fact and you should bow slightly (it is enough if you lower your head slightly; not to be confused with the bowing of the whole upper body that is common in Japan). Hand over your business cards with both hands and take them that way. Be careful not to create barriers, e.g. B. Cross your arms, as this will make you look too closed and distant. When you speak, use friendly, open gestures. Never hug a Chinese business partner or pat them on the back unless you are really friends with them.

More information about the first interview

The typical "meaningless" facial expression of a Chinese when introducing one another means neither unfriendliness nor dissatisfaction, it is merely an expression of the conviction that it is a virtue not to show feelings.

When you receive a business card from a Chinese business partner, take it with both hands and praise it; make sure that the card is on the table in front of you throughout the meeting.

Eye contact is evaluated in exactly the opposite way in China than in the West. If you look a Chinese person straight in the eye during a conversation, it is not considered a sign of attention, but of aggressiveness and unkindness. This is why the Chinese try to avoid eye contact during conversations as much as possible; to show respect for your counterpart, close your eyes a little further. This is especially true when you first get to know each other.

The first time you have a business meeting with someone, be prepared for a bit of small talk before getting down to business.

The topics of conversation in the office, in a restaurant or at a trade fair can be more or less formal. Chinese "casual" topics of conversation differ from those in Western culture.

In China, asking about someone's job, annual salary, relationship status, or age is not considered impolite. The Chinese pay less attention to your answers to these questions than to whether you are even ready to give an answer. Typical western "icebreaker" issues such as Sino-Japanese relations or minority problems in China could embarrass your Chinese business partners.

Many gestures that are common in Western culture, such as snapping fingers, whistling (to get someone's attention), showing the soles of a shoe, or blowing your nose (albeit carefully) are considered very rude in China. So stay away from it at a business meeting.


When you meet your Chinese business partner for the first time, it may be that they are already talking to the competition or that they are not too interested in working together, but that's just a game.

Introduce yourself and your company in the most attractive way possible and leave a positive first impression - this is how a simple business meeting results in a long-term, profitable cooperation.


The first impression plays an enormous role in China, so it is worth learning and practicing the Chinese customs (as described above) in order to establish good business relationships with partners in China.


    Rane, Jordan (October, 2012). “How to make a good first impression in Asia”.

    Found on: travel.cnn.com/good-first-impression-asia-131896

    Mu Qian, Meng FanMao (July, 2014). "A comparative study of body language between China and the West"

    Found on: http://www.davidpublishing.com/show.html?16983

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