China Do’s and Don’ts

Planning to go to China soon? If you are going to China to work or to have a vacation, you should know the dos and don’ts locals are accustomed to. You have to prepare yourself, not just in terms of legal documents but in terms of behavior as well. If you are coming from the Philippines, it’s easy to adjust when you are in China since it’s also an Asian country. You may see similarities but expect that there will be big differences as well.

Also Read: How to Become a Teacher in China

In this blog, we will share with you the basic dos and don’ts that you can use in order to socialize with the locals. The foundation of these dos and don’ts is the country’s culture, tradition, norms, and laws. You can use this as a guide to when you decide to go to China. You can also share this with your family or friends who are about to go to China.

dos and donts in china

Table of Contents

How to Behave in China

To behave in China, you must be willing to learn their culture, tradition, and norms. The best way you can learn is to understand how their system works. But, you don’t need to learn all the laws, rules, and regulations. Stick to the basics. You have all your time to be familiar with the laws once you are in China. You can start with the basic dos and don’ts. Learn them so you can effectively socialize with the locals.

Do’s in China

These are the dos in China. Typically, these are the gestures you can do and adapt so you can understand the new environment better.

  • Do shake hands or nod when greeting someone. You don’t need to bow since it’s frequently used in Korea or Japan, but not in China.
  • Do use titles when you are addressing someone older than you. Use “Mr.” then followed by the family name.
  • Do greet the senior or elder member first as a form of respect.
  • Do engage in toasts with the guests or hosts. This is considered a polite manner. You can also stand up to join formal gatherings.
  • Do taste all the food included in the banquet. It’s a form of appreciation to taste all the food, especially if you are invited by someone. Also, after you eat, make sure to leave a small amount of food to honor the generosity of the host.
  • Do tap the table using your two fingers when someone refills your tea. It is a way of saying thank you to that person.
  • Do give and receive gifts using both of your hands. It’s a part of Chinese culture and considered polite.
  • Do politely reject a gift a few times. If the person giving insists that you receive the gift, then that’s the time you can accept it. It’s a norm in China to politely decline first before you can accept a gift.
  • Do give small gifts such as books, perfumes, candies, and music CDs. You can get these things from your home country or buy from a reliable Chinese branch.
  • Do practice walking in a clockwise direction when you are visiting a temple.
  • Do remove your hat when you are entering a temple.
  • Do give donations to religious beggars.

Don’ts in China

If there are dos in China, there are also don’ts. These don’ts are the things you should avoid doing. Here’s the list you can follow.

  • Don’t take pictures of old folks if you don’t have their permission. It’s considered rude in China since there are old folks who accept payments before they consent to the photographs.
  • Don’t touch Tibetans on their head. They get offended by this gesture since they believe that God lives in your head.
  • Don’t unwrap your gift in front of the person who gave it to you unless that person insists. Wait for you to get home or let your guests leave first you proceed on opening your gifts.
  • Don’t use black or white wrappers when wrapping a gift. You can opt for festive colors like red.
  • Don’t give clocks as gifts. They mean death in China.
  • Don’t tap your chopsticks on the table or on your bowl. This is considered rude in China.
  • Don’t put seeds, bones, or other inedible remainders in your rice bowl. You can get a tissue to wrap these inedible or you can place them on a small plate provided for you. You can also observe others how they deal with this.
  • Don’t use your personal chopsticks to get food from the central dishes. Normally, separate chopsticks are provided for the serving. It’s considered unhygienic for Chinese to use their personal chopsticks.
  • Don’t use an aggressive handshake when greeting someone. A too firm handshake is considered a form of aggression, which is not perceived as a good thing in China.
  • Don’t hug someone you just met even if it’s a form of greeting. A hug is utilized by close relatives.

Tips when going to China

China is a country that upholds its culture and tradition. If you are planning to go there, you should be willing to learn about their culture and tradition. You can easily adapt to your new environment if you are going to study the country’s culture and tradition even before your flight to the country. Don’t get too intimidated. It’s normal for expats to worry about the possible changes especially if the country is as successful as China.

Aside from the list of dos and don’ts above, don’t forget that you also need to study the laws and regulations in China. You can start with the traffic rules and employment laws. You should have at least a background of those laws before you go to China. As you explore the country, you will learn more about the laws and the standards in society. Just be observant and watch locals how they deal with certain things.

When going to China, don’t just prepare your documents. Prepare your expectations as well. Expect that your adjustment period will not be easy and it could be longer depending on how you embrace the changes.

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