Doing Business in China – Giving and Receiving Gifts in Different Settings

In China, gift giving is usually a common courtesy used to express appreciation or gratitude for friendship or hospitality. However, the etiquette for giving and receiving gifts in China differs a lot from that in other cultures, and it is better to master the art of giving and receiving gifts under different settings.

For a long time in history, it is held by the Chinese that reciprocity is in concurrence with courtesy, which means that people of good manners would return favors and kindness when receiving a gift or treat from a friend. They will pick up another suitable occasion to offer back as it is regarded as important to strengthen relationship.

Usually presents are given as a way to express thanks on suitable occasions such as birthdays, weddings, etc. As it is the same with most cultures in the world, what to gift depends on the relationship with the recipient. It is unnecessary to gift something big or too expensive; however, the gifts should be something that the recipients would appreciate.

General Gifts

The following are some tips for general gift giving in China as well as some business practices in China.

Giving Gifts in Return in China
Giving Gifts in Return in China

1. Give gifts to the host who invites you as a way of expressing gratitude.

Foreign Trade in China
Foreign Trade in China

2. Find something the whole family can use if you are giving visiting gifts to the home of the host. For instance, give tea or food or anything that is vital in China or in the neighboring community.

3. Do not feel surprised or disappointed if the recipient decline the gift two or three times before accepting it as it is traditional culture that the recipient should not appear too greedy.

4. Do not feel offended if the person does not open the gift immediately after receiving it as it is usually the practice to open the gifts later so as to avoid embarrassing situations.

Wrap Gifts in Red and Golden When Giving Them in China
Wrap Gifts in Red and Golden When Giving Them in China

5. Wrap the gift using colored ribbons especially red, gold and silver as these colors are favored by the Chinese as auspicious.

Business Gifts

Giving Business Gifts in China
Giving Business Gifts in China

1. In business setting, it is better to give gift to a company or organization rather than to a person, or you can choose to give gifts to an individual in private as a gesture of friendship.

2. Do not give too extravagant gift.

3. Do not take photos of giving a gift unless it is a symbolic event.

Receiving Gifts

Practises for Receiving Gifts in China
Practises for Receiving Gifts in China

1. When receiving gifts, use both hands with a slight bow.

2. Some Chinese who are frequent contacts with the westerns would expect you to open the gifts in front of them. To avoid any embarrassing situation, it is better to confirm whether they want you to open the gifts in front of them or not.

3. Express your thanks after receiving the gifts, or offer back on some other suitable occasions.

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