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Business Alerts


When you are having appointments in China, you should pay attention to the following:

China is a highly regulated economy, make sure you know the proper procedures, rules, regulations and protocols.

Personal relationships or Guanxi are crucial to business success in China.

Introductions should be arranged through the right channels. Chinese business people are unlikely to meet with "strangers".

It is assumed that you will be punctual to meetings, if not early.

Custom dictates formality in business meetings. The senior member of the group should enter the room first and sit at the centre of the table. The senior member of each group usually guides discussions.

A significant component of business is conducted after hours through banquets and entertaining.

Small gifts are welcomed as mementos of your visit.

Mainland China

Some joint ventures in the People's Republic of China collapse because the two sides fail to understand one another. Even basic assumptions in international business circles such as the finality of a signed contract are subject to differing interpretations by the Chinese. All parties expecting to do business in China should secure the services of skilled translators and negotiators.

Business is conducted at a slow pace. The Chinese value patience more than punctuality, so negotiators should allow more time than they normally would in most other countries. Social activities, particularly banquets and sightseeing excursions, are part of the business day. Accepting this hospitality may not enhance your business position, but rejecting it will certainly harm it. Personal contact is an integral part of business negotiations in China.

Be extremely cautious when commenting on the country or government, even though there may be changes taking place. And despite relaxing attitudes, never refer to Taiwan as a country (both governments in China and Taiwan regard Taiwan as an integral part of China).

Ignore apparent rudeness in the streets and markets as most Chinese do, it is a mark of disinterest more than anything else. Patience and grace will win respect faster than showing irritation or arguing.

Chinese traditionally list their surnames first. In China, where the pinyin system of Romanization is used, the given name is written as one word: for example, Zhou Enlai. The polite form of address follows the surname: for a man it is Xiansheng (Mr.); for a woman it is Furen (Mrs.) or Xiaojie (Miss). Ordinary Chinese often address one another as Tongzhi (comrade).

Hong Kong

Courtesy and civility may be in short supply on the streets, but it is an essential commodity when dealing with educated people in Hong Kong. Avoid visiting Hong Kong during Chinese New Year, when shops and restaurants close for family celebrations. Be aware that asking how much someone earns of weighs is not considered impertinent; do not be offended. Due to crowded living quarters, most social life and business entertaining revolves around restaurants. Even at casual meals, splitting the bill is considered very bad form.

Chinese traditionally list their surnames first, but many Hong Kong people have adopted Western given names and use surnames last for business.


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