Posted by: Melissa C | March 26, 2010

Cultural Awareness – China

CLICK HERE to access a PDF file of this presentation!

Ni Hao!


  • Capital – Beijing
  • Language – Standard Chinese (Mandarin)
    • Cantonese and Shanghainese also spoken
  • Population – 1,338,612,968
    • 1st in world
  • Religion – Daoism, Buddhism, Christianity
    • Officially atheist since 2002
  • Area – 3,705,407 square miles
    • 4th in world
    • Slightly smaller than United States
  • Independence – October 1, 1949
    • Become People’s Republic of China

Business in China

  • Avoid traveling during the lunar New Year
    • Tradition to travel to homeland
    • Heavy strain on infrastructure and traffic
  • Punctuality is very important, business and social
    • Lateness or cancellation is serious disrespect
  • Expect senior officials to conduct conversation
    • Subordinates do not interrupt
  • Treated to at least one evening banquet
    • Return favor with same degree of lavishness
  • Work week: Monday – Saturday, 8 AM to 5 PM
    • Changing to five-day work week in large cities
  • Patience is key, expect delays
    • Do not mention deadlines, Chinese will use this against you
  • Avoid dramatic facial expressions and gestures
    • Chinese do not speak with hands and become distracted
  • Give gifts made in your home country!

Some Useful Facts…

  • Problems with technology and the Internet
    • Difficult to put thousands of Chinese characters on keyboards
    • Government censorship of Internet
    • Lack of credit cards result in little online commerce
  • Appreciate interest in culture and history
    • Familiarize yourself with all aspects of China
  • Names are listed in different order (i.e. Hu Jintao)
    • Family (last) name, middle name, given (first) name
    • Mr. Hu; may also be written as Hu Jin-tao
    • Only about 400 surnames in China
  • Considered polite to sample every dish
    • May test fortitude with exotic dishes, i.e. deep fried scorpion
  • Do not put your hands in your mouth
    • Considered disgusting
  • Written Chinese only has present tense
    • Tense determined by context, key words
  • Red is a lucky color
    • Pink and yellow also prosperous
    • White, black and blue used for funerals

Implications in our Fields

  • Tourism and Hospitality
    • Largest tourist country by 2020 (WTO)
    • Historical and cultural sites
      • Great Wall, Forbidden City in Beijing, imperial sites
      • Hong Kong/Shanghai nightlife and skylines
    • Nature tourism
      • Mountains, lakes, rivers, valleys, caves, waterfalls
      • Hainan Island – “Hawaii of the Orient”
    • Gambling in Macao
      • Former colony of Portugal
      • Only place in China where casino are permitted
  • Sport and Recreation
    • Increased interest since 2008 Olympic games
    • Martial arts
      • Kung fu, Shaolin monks
    • Table tennis
      • Dominate world titles
    • Dragon boat racing
      • 2000 year tradition during Duanwu festival
    • Basketball
      • Yao Ming sparked overnight interest
    • Avid sports gamblers
    • “Physical Health Law of People’s Republic of China”
      • Mandates regular physical exercise, one activity per day

Hong Kong

  • UK gave colony to PRC in 1997
  • Established as a place to earn money
    • Not to bring Western education, technology, government, etc.
  • Cantonese and English are official languages
  • Confucianism dominates culture
  • Consider themselves more fashionable than Chinese
  • Horseracing is popular spectator sport

Xie Xie!



  1. Here’s an interesting fact:

    Many hotels and hospitals in China don’t label the fourth floor. Why? The pronunciation of “four” sounds like “death”.

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