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China is known as the Nation of Etiquette, though sometimes Chinese people are considered to be discourteous according to westerners. That is the different culture and history background making the gaps between Chinese and western etiquettes. In order to avoid the unnecessary mistakes and embarrassment during the communications, a better-understanding of the Chinese etiquettes is an essential.
Hands-Shaking is a kind of formal greeting behavior in China. Showing the respect, it is only be used if the person is someone important, like a government official or a business cooperator. When you shake hands with a Chinese, please control the strength, because Chinese like other Asians prefers stop when it should stop. After shaking-hands, you may exchange your names or the titles of your companies, etc. with each other and carry out the affairs.
Mianzi is a hidden regulation in Chinese society. Chinese is used to handling the skill during a communication. But as a foreigner, it is not necessary to take Mianzi too serious to baffle your talking. Mianzi can be easily understood as avoiding being made to look embarrassed in front of others. Otherwise, it can be considered to be impolite.
'Courtesy demands reciprocity.'- an old saying of China, is an indispensable of human relations. It is important to both private and business relationships. A present with local flavor of your country is the best choice for the first meet. It is not proper and is even considered to be unfortunate to take clock as a gift or to choose a present having some thing to do with the number four (sounds like death in Chinese), though four is an even number (even numbers are taken as luck except four). The packaging of the gift should be red or other festive colors, white and black are ominous. Do not boast the gift you choose in front of the receiver and you should use both hands to present. Generally, the present receiver may mannerly refuse the present first, in this case, you should understand rightly and present once again. If the receiver did not open your gift it does not mean he or she is not interested in it. It is thought to be polite to open it after you leaving.
In China, gift is also necessary when visiting a family. But it is not as complex as the above situation. Usually, flowers, common fruits and food are ok. As for the alcohol, you had better check whether the person like it or have such hobby. During the lunch time, hosts will ask you to have more food or alcohol. If you do not want to disappoint the hosts, you can have little more according to your situation. If you are truly full, you had better refuse directly, otherwise, the hospitable hosts will continue to refill your bowl.
Above all, the following of the usual rules and regulations in China will present your respect to Chinese. But there is no need to worry more about the cultural barriers, for the warm and friendly Chinese will try their best to respect your customs when communicating.