D0703-Essential Chinese Etiquette

Essential Chinese Etiquette
A survival guide to having good manners with
Chinese people in Taiwan
extracted from
The best way to avoid making mistakes or “losing face” in front of your Chinese hosts is to observe what everybody else is doing and try to do like them.


Self-respect first, Chinese etiquette second!

Chinese Etiquette #1–Greeting People
Contrarily相反to what many foreigners think, you are not supposed to bow when greeting Chinese people.
Shaking hands, smiling, and saying “hi” or “ni hao” is the most usual way to greet people in China or Taiwan. Use “nin hao” to greet older Chinese people.
Chinese Etiquette #2 Visiting a Chinese Home
· Make sure you arrive on time.
· Take off your shoes before entering your guest’s home.
· Offer a small gift to your host.
· Receive objects (gifts, drinks, napkins) with both hands.

Chinese Etiquette #3
Eating Out With Taiwanese – Table Manners


· Wait for someone to tell you where to sit.
· Let elders sit down first.
· Don’t start eating as soon as the food gets on the table.
The host usually tells people when to start eating.
· Eat as much as you can to show you’re enjoying the food.
· You should try everything that is offered to you.
· Wait for your guest to offer a toast before drinking alcohol.
· You can drink from your bowl.
· You can use your hands to eat foods like chicken and shrimps.
· You can use a toothpick at the table, but make sure you cover your mouth with your free hand.
· Don’t get offended if people make noise or burp while eating.
· Chinese people rarely split the bill at restaurants. Be ready to pay for the whole thing, or to have them pay for you.

Chinese Etiquette #4-Chopsticks
Rule #1: Don’t plant your chopsticks in your rice so that they stand up. Chinese people think it looks like incense stuck in the ash of a censer.
When you are not using them, or have to drink, or talk, you can leave them flat on the table.


“Public-Use Chopsticks”
Sometimes, an extra pair of chopsticks will be placed in the middle of the table. These chopsticks are called “gong kuai公筷” or “public-use chopsticks”. You use them (for hygienic purpose衛生) to take food from serving trays, and you place them back in the middle after using them.

Chinese Etiquette #5-Chinese Gifts
Gifts are given when visiting someone’s home, on major Chinese holidays like Chinese New Year, at weddings and for birthdays.

· Always present your gift with both hands.
· Fresh fruit are always appreciated, especially if they are in a nice box or basket.
· Do not give the following objects: clocks, handkerchiefs, and sharp objects like scissors or knives.
· Always receive gifts with both hands.

Chinese Etiquette #6-Red Envelopes
On special occasions like Chinese New Year and weddings, Chinese people give red envelopes filled with money instead of giving gifts. Chinese red envelopes are called “hong bao紅包” in Mandarin Chinese.
Red is the most auspicious color in Chinese. It represents good luck, success, and prosperity.
On Chinese New Year, adults give red envelopes to children.
As a foreigner, you are not expected to give red envelopes to anyone.
If you attend a wedding, you’ll have to give a red envelope with your name on it. Giving less than 1600 NT$ per person is considered stingy.
The number 4 is unlucky as it sounds like “death” in Mandarin Chinese, so don’t give any amount that has a 4 in it like 2400NT. Odd numbers are also bad.
8 is a lucky number, so it’s perfect if you give 1800NT! You can’t give coins, so don’t give 1888NT.

Chinese Etiquette #7-Why are Chinese people so curious?
Chinese people are very curious about foreigners and they’re not shy to ask questions. Even if it’s the first time you meet a Chinese person, don’t be surprised if that person asks you questions such as:
· How old are you?
· Which university did you attend?
· Are you married? Are you planning to get married?
· Where do you work? How much do you make?
Do not answer private questions if you don’t want to. I often tell Chinese people that I don’t want to talk about my personal life, especially when I’m asked about marriage or my job. It’s not because you’re in a Chinese culture that you have to compromise on your dignity. Self-respect first, Chinese etiquette second!

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Chinese Etiquette #8 Respecting Elders

Elders have a very important place in Chinese society, and Chinese people will go to extreme lengths to show them respect. Always use “nin” (the polite “you” in Mandarin) when addressing elders.
You should still use common sense when dealing with those old folks.

Chinese Etiquette #9 Don’t write people’s name in red.
traditionally, the name of the deceased were painted in red on their gravestones.

Chinese Etiquette #10 Flattery
Chinese people like to compliment. They’ll say “Wow! Your Chinese is very good!” after you’ve said ni hao.
The usual way to respond to it is to accept the compliment with humility and to give a compliment back.

because those people want to encourage him. The word “good” in this context does not necessarily mean the level of language as in exams, but the effort to speak another language.

Chinese Etiquette #11-Business Cards




Always offer or receive a business card with both hands.
· Have a quick look at the card before putting it away.
· Don’t write on a business card.
· Don’t place business cards in your rear (back) pocket.

Chinese Etiquette #12-Clothing and appearance

It’s not uncommon to see men walking around topless in western cities, but here it’s a total different story: Keep your T-shirt on, even if it’s 36 degrees outside!

Chinese Etiquette #13-Public Display of Affection
Traditionally, showing affection in public isn’t accepted in Chinese society. But in modern Taiwan, most people have a relaxed attitude toward this issue. Walking around hand in hand is common.
Holding each other by the waist on a bench at the park while having a romantic discussion is also all right (especially at night).
However, flagrant french-kissing and touching is definitely inappropriate.

Chinese Etiquette #14-Losing Face(丟臉diū liǎn)

· Avoid behaving in a way that will make someone embarrassed.
· Don’t criticize someone in front of other people.
· Don’t lose your temper even if you are in a very frustrating situation.
· Don’t yell at people. Don’t show anger.
· Don’t accept compliments too easily. Show some humility.
· Don’t talk too much about your yourself.
· Genuinely compliment others.

more inform: https://www.wikihow.com/Practice-Chinese-Etiquette



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