On Negotiation with Chinese
- business etiquette, cultural differences
WANG Guo-An (Andrew)
Professor of International Trade
 Zhejiang Gongshang University,China
E-mail: [email protected]
Indirect approach
Greetings and phone conversations
Meals or Banquets
Habits Westerners are not used to
Working with interpreters
Online communication
1. Indirect approach
The Chinese and Japanese dislike doing
business with strangers; it’s helpful to be
introduced properly by an intermediary
known to both sides. But Americans like to
adopt a direct approach.
What about Koreans/Australians? Why?
1. Indirect approach
Alternatively, in any culture, if you make an
independent initial approach, you should provide
as much information as possible about your
company and what you hope to accomplish.
What information do you provide your
prospective partners with ?
2. Greetings and telephone conversation
Chinese: Where are you going? Have you had a meal?
Japanese: Konichiwa! Ouhayogozayimas
Americans: Hi, what’s up?
How do Koreans/Australians greet people?
Could/Would…? 您….
Who are you?X Who is speaking? This is Andrew
Do not hang up the receiver until your customer/superior
has hung up.
Do Australians ring up after office hours?
3. Introduction
By yourself: Institution (full name), department,
rank or position and name
By someone else:
 The young to the old;
 Man to woman;
 Low position to high position;
 Unmarried to married;
 Close relation to distant relation
3. Introduction
Name cards:
Simplified/traditional Chinese characters,
English, with not more than two ranks or
positions, different name cards on different
occasions, no home phone number, no
3. Introduction
How to get name cards?
By offering your name card, by saying; “can I
exchange my name card with you” or “how can I
get in touch with you?”
Examine others’ name cards carefully to show respect.
Offer your name cards with two hands to others.
Chinese like to ask personal and private questions
regarding one’s income, age and marital status.
How to address people? Wang Guo An 王国安
Surname followed by administrative/ academic/
professional title:
Wang Jiaoshou (Professor) 王教授
Chen Jingli (Manager) 陈经理
Zhang Laoban (boss) 张老板
Li Zhuren (Director) 李主任
Affectionate and courteous address:
Xiao Mei 小妹 or 小姐 to younger girls
Dage/Dajie to males/females older than you
Omit deputy or vice or associate before administrative
or professional title
Chinese seldom use given/first name, such as
Andrew/Andy, James/Jim, Robert/Rob in the West
4. Gifts
Functions: To show esteem or gratitude , as
souvenirs, promotion of one’s culture,
enterprise’s image and national features,
marking occasions.
Friendship or bribe? What to buy as gifts?
Taboos: white and black colors, religion, cultures,
not too expensive, clocks, pears, 4
Wrap the gift, give or receive gifts with both hands.
5. Meals or banquets
For Chinese, business decisions are sometimes
made by eating, drinking at the table or singing
karaoke rather than at the desk in the office.
Five Ms: money, menu, medium, music and manners
Money: Who pays the bill? Go Dutch or your treat?
5. Meals or banquets
Menu: What do you dislike to eat?
Do you have any food restrictions?
Religious taboos should be respected. Dog
meat, paws of chickens and pigs, and internal
organs of animals are unpopular food for
Westerners. But Chinese may eat all these
East and west, home food is best.
5. Meals or banquets
Medium: environment
Music: guest’s national music, no rock or disco
Manners: Offering food with chopsticks and
urging such as “ganbei”, “ganbei” are signs of
intimacy, hospitality and consideration. Making
noise when eating noodles and drinking soup is
unavoidable, but it is regarded as rude in the
West. Smoking can be observed at table and
sometimes it is the beginning of a business
conversation in some places in inner land
5. Meals or banquets
Japanese and Korean do not pour wine for
themselves. Chinese pour wine for themselves
and guests. Chinese, Koreans and Japanese
eat with chopsticks and spoons and get food
from common bowls. No tips for waitresses or
Table Manners in the West
Drink soup with a round spoon outward, never
with a bowl;
Cut meat with the right hand and with the index
finger pressing the knife;
Do not put elbows on the table, put the elbows
The small knife is for butter and the big knife is for
main course/food;
Table Manners in the West
The small fork is for dessert and the big fork is for
main course;
Do not fold napkins after using them;
Finish eating after the host;
Offer a tip to the waitress, amounting to 10-15% of
the meal.
How do Australians/your countrymen show hospitality
when you treat guests to dinner?
Tips to refuse toasts
6. Habits Westerners are not used to
Smoking cigarettes indiscriminately/at the table
Making noise when eating and drinking
Offering food to guests
Urging guests to drink or sing songs
Staring at foreigners (laowai)
Asking private questions
Standing too close
Not standing in a queue
Making appointments in short notice
7. Working with interpreters
Communicate with the interpreter before your
A good interpreter can help you immeasurably in a
foreign culture.
When talking through an interpreter, pause
frequently and avoid slang and colloquialism.
7. Working with interpreters
Always talk to the host, never directly to the
Nodding head is not always equal to “yes”, just
like “Hayi’ in Japanese.
Chinese, Koreans and Japanese usually do not
say “no” to guests very frankly.
Restate what was accomplished at the close of a
meeting to guard against misunderstanding.
Ask for a contact person for further dealings.
8. Invitation
Official letter head/host with all the contact
information, including a logo
 The invited: legal name, passport/ID number,
rank/position, date of birth
 Visit schedule/ agenda: firm dates and
 Who covers the expenses
9. Online Communication
 Conspicuous/specific/personal title when
sending an e-mail message
 Acknowledge the receipt of emails and reply
 Clear, courteous, concise and personal
 Leaving all your contact information
 Check and proofread before sending
 Use your e-mail account at your
10. Personal connection/Guanxi in China
The concept of guanxi (personal connections)
is not unique to China, but it is vital to get
important things accomplished in China. Local
and foreign companies spend heavily to establish
and maintain relationships with influential people.
The payoff may be personal or organizational.
10. Personal connection/Guanxi in China
At its heart, guanxi is a tit-for-tat relationship
between two people. Chinese naturally turn to
their relationship networks for help, so they work
hard to cultivate friends in high or strategic places.
If a Chinese finds him or herself without guanxi,
the first order of business is to establish one as
Chinese do not trust strangers in doing business.
10. Personal connection/Guanxi in China
One reason for the pervasiveness of the guanxi system
on the Mainland China is the relative lack of a reliable legal
system. But it is also important in areas outside China, where
the legal system is more developed. In recent years guanxi
has even been a commodity for sale. Chinese prefer to do
business with, and even to hire, those with whom they have
guanxi, It is contrasted to an aversion to doing this among
10. Personal connection/Guanxi in China
They believe guanxi diminishes the danger of
problems, and makes solving them much easier
when they do arise. However, guanxi is playing a
less and less important role in getting things
accomplished as the Chinese legal system is
improving and the market economic system is
Homework: The cultural differences between
Chinese and Australians/my countrymen
Please write on the topic “The cultural differences between Chinese
and Australians/my countrymen ”. Three students work in a group 15minute presentation on the topic and write a two-paper essay on it.
Please indicate the references at the end of the paper. The cover
page includes the title, the author’s name, phone, email and student
Length: at least two pages of A4
Letter size: 10 in Times New Roman
Submission deadline: 22nd June, 2010

On Negotiation with Chinese Businessmen