Business Etiquettes for Doing Business with the Chinese Market

The world’s second-largest economy, the People’s Republic of China has contributed the most to world growth in the post-financial crisis that engulfed the world in 2008. A growing economy, a booming market for businesses across all industries and a recent favorite among foreign investors with dreams of expansion—it’s easy to see why so many people would want to do business here. But doing business in China is not as easy as it sounds. Unlike any other country on Earth, Chinese locals adhere to their own set of morals, ethics, and etiquettes.

For starters, they value their mother tongue above all global languages, amidst the debate about Mandarin even overshadowing English as the language of the future. Little things like these tell us much about the Chinese culture, and help businesses understand their consumers a little better.

And there’s more where that came from.


The philosophy, of course, comes from the teachings of Confucius, and has great value in Chinese life and customs. To put it briefly, Confucianism emphasizes tradition, values, politeness, and etiquette—something any tourist in China can observe on their first day.

Chinese locals are soft-spoken and polite, they prioritize good manners and have little respect for the undignified. Passed on from previous generations to the latter, Confucianism is the foundation stone of Chinese business etiquette.

No matter how great your enterprise, you must display politeness and humility in order to be taken seriously by Chinese locals and business tycoons alike.

Social Etiquette

The Chinese value social harmony and look down upon belligerence. Contradictions, criticism, and patronizing behavior in public will win you no favors. On the contrary, you’ll lose rep not only with the people you have business dealings with, but also with the locals. Eventually, they’ll be less inclined and perhaps even uninterested in paying for your products and services.


China is a country where modesty is still regarded as something significant and decent dressing will earn you quick points. Nothing loud or large, flashy or flamboyant, would work. Suits for men and business dresses for women work best. Heavy makeup is looked down upon and showing as little skin as possible is the best way to go about it.


The Chinese, like most Asians, prefer personal connections over business ones. A bond of trust and transparency must be built between two businessmen—it is through knowing the person that the Chinese decide whether or not they’ll do business with them.

We suggest that you greet everyone you meet as politely as possible, whether with a handshake or otherwise. Use titles and phrases for please and help. Give compliments. Show through your actions that you respect them. Take measures to solidify your bonds with them, either through socializing or in breaks during meetings.

Integrate Better in Chinese Culture, Starting Today

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