Do Not Give These Gifts to Your Chinese Business Partner
Giving gifts is a kind gesture to show appreciation or simply a way to make someone happy. But when you have a Chinese business partner, you should be careful about the presents that you give. To the Chinese, gifts can symbolize success, prosperity and happiness; but they can also mean bad luck, sickness, and even death.
You might think that a handkerchief would be a nice and useful gift, but your Chinese business partner will probably feel uneasy about it. Because in China, handkerchiefs are given at the end of funerals. As such, a handkerchief symbolizes death. Not to mention, it will make him remember the sad memories of losing his loved ones.
Clock[caption id="attachment_569" align="aligncenter" width="121"] Unliked Gift – Clock[/caption]
A clock is a nice gift usually given as a birthday present or during any other celebrations. However, for your Chinese business partner, it is like wishing him death, as if you are counting his remaining seconds.
[caption id="attachment_570" align="aligncenter" width="167"] Unliked Gift – Mirror[/caption]
If your Chinese business partner is a woman, it seems a brilliant idea to give her a beautiful mirror. Unfortunately, to the Chinese, mirrors attract malevolent spirits. Moreover, mirrors can easily be broken; and according to another Chinese superstition, broken mirrors bring bad luck.
[caption id="attachment_571" align="aligncenter" width="142"] Unliked Gift – Umbrella[/caption]
The Chinese equivalent of the term “umbrella” is san which has a similar meaning to “loose” or “fall apart.” If you give an umbrella to your Chinese business partner, he might think that you want to put an end to your business.
[caption id="attachment_572" align="aligncenter" width="151"] Unliked Goft – White Flower[/caption]
Many women love flowers, and the white ones usually symbolize purity. But, never give a white flower to a Chinese, because it is associated with funerals. It would seem like a death wish.
[caption id="attachment_573" align="aligncenter" width="164"] Unliked Gift – Green Hat[/caption]
In China, a green hat symbolizes unfaithfulness. If you give it to your Chinese business partner, he might take it as a message as if you were telling him that his wife has another man. Avoid getting involved in such personal issues.
[caption id="attachment_574" align="aligncenter" width="182"] Unliked Gift – Shoes[/caption]
Shoes are a fine gift, especially if you manage to get the right size. However, even if the shoes fit perfectly, there can be a misunderstanding. And the fact that you picked the right size might make things worse. The Chinese term for shoes is xie, which, to the Chinese, sounds like “evil.” Moreover, shoes continuously hit the floor and can mean that you are telling your partner to leave the business and just “hit the road.”
Knife, scissors, or any bladed object
[caption id="attachment_575" align="aligncenter" width="134"] Unliked Gift – Knife[/caption]
Maybe you want to give your Chinese business partner a knife because he loves cooking, or maybe an axe. Think twice before you do. These things are used for cutting; and to the Chinese, such objects symbolize putting an end to a relationship.
Black and/or white
[caption id="attachment_576" align="aligncenter" width="146"] Unliked Gift – Black and/or White only[/caption]
Avoid anything that is black and white, for they are funeral colors. Even for the gift wrapper, use any color except black and white.
Be careful when giving a gift to your Chinese business partner to avoid any misunderstanding. Of course, not all Chinese expect you to know these things, but it would be better if you do, so that your partner will not find it difficult to accept your gift.
Free Book: Doing Business in China - Tips and Tracks
China has its own business culture and etiquette.
There are many things that a businessman from West needs to understand if he wants to enter the China market and succeed.