• What not to do in China

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    Politeness and humility are an important part of Chinese culture. But what’s the difference between being polite in the UK and the Chinese definition? We’ve thought of that. Our solution? A four-part guide called ‘The antidote to culture shock’. In part three, we’re covering what not to do in China and why you should never cause someone to ‘lose face’. Have a read and print off the list at the end to take with you on your trip.

    Don’t make a scene- In the unlikely scenario that something goes awry, try not to kick up a fuss or get visibly annoyed as this will cause your hosts to ‘lose face’. Losing face is an extremely important part of Chinese etiquette and if not respected, will just make things worse.

    Keep the small talk small: The subject of death in China is very much a no go when it comes to chit-chat and not just in the ordinary British, ‘talking about dying makes me feel a bit sad’, way. This taboo is so widespread that many hotels in Hong Kong don’t have floors or rooms with the number four (4th,14th etc.). This is because the Cantonese word for four sounds like the word for death.

    Not everyone likes a cuddle: China as a nation aren’t very touchy feely. Greeting people with a hug is considered over familiar and handshakes are the preferred way to greet someone.

    Wear a green hat: The Chinese are very superstitious and there is a saying in China that if a man wears a green hat, his wife is cheating.

    First name basis: First names come last in china so if someone is introduced as Mr. Li Ping, then Ping is his first name. Unless you’re related or very close to someone, it’s fairly uncommon to address someone with their first name.


    Don’t bow: Most Chinese people will look to the floor when they say hello, which isn’t the same as bowing. Bowing isn’t normal practice, so you’ll just look silly if you do.  A good firm handshake will always do the trick.


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    Sophie is passionate about travel and photography. She has travelled extensively throughout Europe, The Middle East, North Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia and New Zealand.

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