While China has become more westernized, there are still some basic things you should and shouldn’t do while you’re there. These are just basics, but as long as you’re friendly and bring your best manners, you will get along fine and have a great time.
Don’t be Late:
It can be seen as rude to be late. Always be on time or even a little early to meetings or dates.
Never Show Up Without a Gift
If you’re meeting someone, it’s customary for both parties often exchange gifts. For instance, if you’re meeting your fiancée’s family for the first time be aware that you’re expected to bring a gift. Gifts are not usually opened until after you leave. If they do insist you open your gift, ask “Is it ok if I open it?”
Special note: Don’t bring four gifts or clocks as gifts- the Chinese associate these with death and are considered unlucky.
Don’t Call People by Their First Names Only:
Unlike in the West, Chinese people don’t call each other by their first name. Let’s say a man is introduced to you as “Lee Ming”. You can safely address him as Mr. Lee not Mr. Ming, because the family name comes first. As an example Joe Smith is known as Smith Joe. This will be a little different if you’ve already got a close relationship with them, but let them say so first.
Avoid Public Displays of Affection:
Generally, public displays of affection (PDAs) are frowned upon. Hand holding is becoming acceptable but play it by ear and ask if it’s ok. Your girlfriend or fiancée will appreciate the gesture.
Never let someone else pay the Bill without saying, “No, please let me.”
Let’s say you go out to a meal in China. It’s time to pay for the meal and your dining companion says, “I’ve got the bill.” It’s considered good manners to argue and fight for the right to pay the bill. Showing eagerness to pay the bill is just good manners. Be willing to go back and forth a few times with the “No, let me” before it’s settled.
Don’t Take The First “No Thank You” Literally
People in China will almost always automatically refuse things like having a drink or going out for food automatically, even if they are really hungry or thirsty. In China a good guest is supposed to refuse at least once, so you as a good host should always offer at least two or three times.
Never Accept Food, Drinks , or Gifts Without Refusing a Couple Times.
Likewise, don’t immediately accept anything offered. Chinese people will expect you as a guest to refuse at least once.
Chinese people are humble and polite. Let’s say have dinner and give your host a compliment like “That was the best dinner ever!” Your host will say, “No, that was really bad.” They’re not being rude, just humble and polite.
So be humble too. Keeping the boasting to a minimum will help keep things from getting awkward. Be modest about yourself: if someone pays you a compliment , be humble and say something like “No, not at all” or “I’m not good at it, but thank you for saying so.”
We hope this brief guide comes in handy, especially if you’re going to China to visit a Fiancee or girlfriend (or even meeting her family!).
Looking to date a Chinese girl? Find her on Cherry Blossoms <3
10 Chinese Etiquette Tips
Chinese Travel Information