Business Etiquette Tips for Meetings in China

Submitted by: Andrea Duke

The People’s Republic of China is home to one-fifth of the world’s population. From its Great Wall to cuddly Giant Panda, China is fast becoming the fastest growing country in the world. PGi’s Meetings Expert Amy Tung prepares us for business conferences in China with these business etiquette tips.

Q: How do you greet and say goodbye to a colleague or client?

A: To say hello in the morning, say “Zao Chen.” For goodbye, try “Zaijian.” We also shake hands in formal situations.


Q: Where do business conferences in China usually take place?

A: Formal meetings take place in an office, usually at the client’s office. Conference rooms are great for this. For informal colleague or client meetings, coffee shops are appropriate.


Q: What are some small talk topics to kick the meeting off? And what topics should be avoided?

A: Weather, stock market, property market and news are good topics. Avoid asking how much they earn or any other private information, including family info, in the first few meetings.


Q: What are the best times to request business conferences in China?

A: The best times are from 10:30-11:30 AM and 3:30-5 PM. Avoid early mornings, meal times or anything after office hours.


Q: How should I schedule business conferences in China? And what do I need to supply before the meeting?

A: Agree to the time, location and topics by phone call first and then send the Outlook invite with agenda, signature and contact number.


Q: Should I schedule a lunch or dinner meeting? What is the etiquette for sharing a meal?

A: Share meals if you’re with work colleagues. Chinese restaurants are perfect for a large group of people and Japanese food if the group is small.


Q: At the meeting, what should I provide and prepare?

A: Business cards + Power Point presentation + Laptop


Q: How long should the conferences be?

A: Meetings should be around 30-45 minutes. Percentage of business versus small talk should be 80-20.


Q: What can I do to encourage collaborative discussion during the meeting?

A: Ask questions, smile and don’t talk too much. Allowing others to talk encourages collaboration.


Q: What should I wear to business conferences in China?

Smart casual to formal, depending on the nature of the company. For example, if it’s a financial institution, attire must be formal. If it’s an IT company, smart casual will be enough.


Q: What should I do after the meeting?

A: Thank you email, action items for follow-up. Gifts are not required, but nice if you’ve signed a huge deal.


Q: What else should visitors to your country know?

A: Enjoy the big variety of food and shopping, because Hong Kong is a sales tax-free city. Definitely don’t bring a small luggage bag because it will be overloaded.

We have beautiful scenery and lots to do, so buy a guidebook and ask your local colleagues to show you around. Tell them what you want to do ahead of time (sightseeing, shopping, eating) and they will be happy to help you.

Photo courtesy of Destination 360.