Chinese Do’s and Don’ts

Chinese Do’s and Don’ts Resized


1) Do address a business associate with their professional title.

2) Do bargain.

3) Do be prepared for random people approaching to you and asking to practice their English.

4) Do be punctual.

5) Do beckon someone by waving them over to you with your palm down.

6) Do carry around a business card of the hotel you are staying in.

7) Do eat all of the rice in your bowl.

8) Do eat what your host offers and orders, including alcohol; it’s rude to refuse.

9) Do fill your companion’s tea cup when it’s empty.

10) Do give your host a gift.

11) Do greet the eldest person in a Chinese family first.

12) Do keep calm when dealing with officials, especially if tense situations arise.

13) Do learn how to use chopsticks correctly.

14) Do present important things to people with both hands.

15) Do present your gift with two arms, and if you are given a gift, receive it with two arms.

16) Do refuse a gift several times before accepting it.

17) Do remove your shoes when entering a Chinese home.

18) Do say hello (ni hao) in Chinese.

19) Do think twice about sharing your opinion especially at formal meetings.

20) Do toast with the word ganbei (“empty glass”).

21) Do touch your glass below that of the eldest person in the group when toasting.

22) Do try to understand indirect communication.


1) Don’t be offended when asked if you’re married.

2) Don’t criticize someone in public.

3) Don’t discuss the three T’s (Taiwan, Tiananmen, Tibet) in class, if you are the teacher.

4) Don’t engage in public displays of affection.

5) Don’t expect to tip everywhere you would tip in Western culture.

6) Don’t give clocks, knives, scissors, white or yellow flowers, or pears as gifts.

7) Don’t immediately put the card away in your pocket or bag.

8) Don’t leave your chopsticks upright in your bowl or tap your bowl with them.

9) Don’t open the gift upon receiving it unless it is insisted upon. Instead, open it later.

10) Don’t point or use your finger (this gesture is used for dogs).

11) Don’t point the bottom of your shoes/feet at someone.

12) Don’t point the spout of the teapot at anyone.

13) Don’t point with your index finger. Instead, use an open hand.

14) Don’t pour your own drink first.

15) Don’t put sugar or milk in your tea.

16) Don’t say “no”.  Instead say “maybe” or “you will think about it”.

17) Don’t shake your feet, lest you shake away all of your luck.

18) Don’t take the last bit of food in a serving plate.

19) Don’t touch someone’s head.

20) Don’t wear bright colors or shorts for business meetings.

21) Don’t whistle or snap your fingers to get someone’s attention.

22) Don’t wrap a gift in white wrapping paper.

23) Don’t write anything in red ink unless you’re correcting an exam.

24) Don’t write on the business card unless you are told to do so.

Handout at:

Hugh Fox III - Xian Liu

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You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

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