Updated May 25, 2003
Being late for an appointment is considered a serious insult in Chinese business culture.
The East Asia & Pacific office of the U.S. Department of Commerce can help you in arranging appointments with local Chinese business and government officials, and can identify the contacts you will have to establish to achieve your objectives. The services of a host of a reputable Public Relations firm is recommended for detailed work involving meeting and negotiating with senior Chinese officials or even pinpointing whom you should meet for your purposes.
The best times for scheduling appointments are April to June and September to October.
Business and government hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. There is, however, a five-day work week in larger cities. Do avoid plans to visit government offices on Friday afternoon, because this is sometimes reserved for 'political studying' of the officials.
Store hours are 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., daily. Most stores in Shanghai, however, remain open until 10:00 p.m.
Most Chinese workers take a break between 12:00 p.m.- 2:00 p.m. Practically everything "shuts down" during this period, including elevator and phone services.
When scheduling your appointments, be sensitive to holidays such as Chinese New Year. During May Day, or the National Day, many businesses will be closed for up to a week during this period. The date of this occasion varies from year to year due to an official advisory to allow the long holidays.