Travel Assistance to China
TIPS ON TRAVELING TO CHINA
Please download a copy of the "Tips on Traveling to China" Guide for completed information. Below are a few of topics covered in the guide.
2. Customs Regulations
o Items Prohibited for Import
o Items Prohibited for Export
o ATA (Temporary Admission) Carnet
3. Making Travel Arrangements in China
o Domestic Flights
o Bus, Mini-Bus and Subway
4. Money Matters
o Chinese Currency
o Currency Exchange
o Traveler’s Checks and Credit Cards
o Tipping and Gift Giving
o Telephone Area Codes / Postal Codes
o Postal Services
7. Business Hours / Public Holidays
8. Health Matters
o Personal Medical Record
o Prescription Drugs
o Health Risks
o Medical Facilities
o Medical Insurance
9. China’s Embassy and Consulates General in the United States
10. United States’ Embassy and Consulates General in China
Business Etiquette and Culture
Dos and Don'ts in Doing Business in China
• New Year – January 1
• Spring Festival (January or February)
• Labor Day – May 1
• CCP Founding Anniversary – July 1
• Army Day – August 1
• National Day – October 1
• Mid-Autumn Festival - September
• Feng Shui
• Herbal Medicine
• Fortune Telling
• Chinese Zodiac
• If you are introduced and people clap, it is considered polite to clap along
• Avoid expansive hand gestures when speaking
• Hand holding by people of the same sex is common
RELATIONSHIPS & FACE
• With a good network of contacts in China, almost anything can be accomplished-- Guanxi is how things get done.
• Reciprocity. This refers to the exchanging of favors between individuals and groups. People will presume upon those with whom they have guanxi, and understand the need for returning favors
• Face is important in any culture, but extremely so in China
• Losing face, saving face and giving face is very important and should be taken into consideration at all times. Loosing your temper, confronting someone, putting someone on the spot, arrogant behavior, or failing to accord proper respect can cause a loss of face
• Business in China is viewed as relationship based, where as business in the U.S. is viewed as transaction based
• This being the case, it is often useful to view business ventures as relationships first, and as a venture second
• To understand how business decisions are made, sometimes knowing family relationships is more important than knowing the organizational structure of the company
• Compromise is key
• Interaction between business partners is more important than written documents
• Expect to make frequent trips to China. Showing up once a year does not show commitment to the relationship.
• Non-business activities show that the focus is on the relationship and not simply on a piece of paper
• Learn to think in terms of 'both' or 'and' rather than 'either/or'
• Business discussions are best left until a certain amount of familiarity has been established with your counterpart.
• Take the time to slow down and try to understand the Chinese way of doing things.
• Hard-driving, get-right-to-the-point tactics usually backfire
• Learn that sometimes 'yes' means 'no', or 'I'm listening'
• 'No problem' does not necessarily mean an easy road
Business Card Protocol
• Business cards, or 'name cards' as they are known in China, are used more frequently than in the U.S.
• Business cards are presented with both hands making sure that the card faces the recipient so that he or she can read it
• Present the Chinese side face up if you have such cards
• Make a show of carefully examining business cards.
• Never merely place the card in your pocket. Place it in front of you on the table if you are seated.
• Titles are usually not given verbally. People are expected to get this information from the name card.
• Be sure to have a good stock on hand when you travel.
Time & Punctuality
• Be aware that concepts of time differ
• Although being late is considered rude, expect that visitors might not be on time
• Being on time is great, but relationships are more important
• Learn patience
Using English Effectively
• English speaking is more and more common and is now considered the lingua franca of business in many countries
• Remember that this does not mean that people in other countries will speak English at the same level of competency as you do, it is probably their second or third language
• Accents and speech patterns affect clarity, even for native speakers (remember that your audience may have learned British English, rather than American English, and that their instructor was most likely not a native speaker)
• Speak slowly
• Enunciate and pronounce words clearly
• Use visual aids if you are making a presentation
• Avoid jokes, slang and colloquialisms
• Although it may seem straight forward, giving gifts is an art form
• Choosing proper gifts will challenge your perceptions of what is and is not proper
• Do not expect that a gift will be opened immediately; however, sometimes that may not be the case
• Do not expect that the gift will be accepted right away. You may have to offer it a few times before it is accepted
• Take a camera to take pictures during gift exchange
• Even if your company color is green, or you travel to China over St. Patrick's Day and want to introduce people to the holiday, never give a Chinese gentleman a green hat. It is associated with adultery.
• Because the number four in Chinese is a homonym for the word 'death' avoid giving things to people in groups of four.
• Red is a color of good fortune. But never give someone something written in red ink as it implies the end of a relationship.
• Do not give clocks. Clocks are associated with death.
• Do not give knives, scissors, letter openers, etc. It implies the severing of a relationship
• Avoid white as it is associated with funerals
• If you give gifts, give gifts to everyone in the room. If not, give the gift to the most important person in the room.
• If you drink, learn to say gan bei because you will be saying it frequently.
• If you do not drink, it is often best to simply tell your host and then do not ever touch the stuff.
• Make sure you pour tea for others before filling your own cup
• If you are the guest, wait to be seated as hierarchy is involved
• Generally, the most senior person is at the head of the table with the guest of honor directly to the left
• Eating usually begins once the host offers the first drink.
• The host will usually serve the most valued guest with a selection of the best food on the table
• Business is usually not discussed during the meal
• The host will usually order more food than can possibly be eaten as the host will lose face if it is eaten in its entirety
• If you want rice with your meal, you will often need to request it, as rice is generally served at the end at dinner banquets
• Never place your chopsticks in a bowl of rice as pictured above.
• Use the serving chopsticks or turn your chopsticks around when use them to server others
• Avoid dropping chopsticks as it is considered bad luck.
• Smoking is common and if you smoke, offer cigarettes to others before you smoke. However, increasingly, fewer people are smoking in China
• The dinner is coming to a close when fruit is served. The host will not initiate a guest's departure, so make preparations to leave at this point
• If you are asked to dinner, it will be expected that you reciprocate. Be sure not to outdo your host.
If you are looking for assistance in planning for your trip to China, please contact us at (312) 368-9911 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For travel tips and money saving advice while traveling in China, please refer to USCCC's pocket guide. This printable pamphlet is a great way to organize your trip to China and contains travel tips that novices and seasoned travelers will find helpful.
The pocket planner also has a convenient trip planner that can help organize your itinerary to make your next trip to China easy and uncomplicated.