Illuminant has a cool year-long series of China-related infographics called Chinese Takeout. Part 4, Gift-giving, is a helpful guide to anyone wondering what to offer for their Chinese hosts, partners, and potential business contacts. Knowing the do’s and don’ts of gift-giving in China can, as the infographic points out, “improve your standing and trustworthiness with the Chinese side.”

…[R]eceiving a gift from a Chinese business or government contact and not having an appropriate gift to give in return causes embarrassment and a sense of debt (which is unhelpful in a Chinese negotiation).  Conversely, the giving of a gift to a Chinese party (and catching him or her without a response) can put you into a stronger position, at least to be able to secure a follow-up meeting!

While few of us would consider clocks or knives when we’re thinking about what presents to give (I mean, really?), knowing the cultural significance of more innocuous objects like chrysanthemums and green hats will probably help you avoid some awkward situations.

Partial reproduction of Illuminant’s infographic

See the original infographic at Illuminant – Gifts in China: what to give, what to avoid (infographic), as well as the other infographics in the series so far:

Part I, A Realistic Overview of China, displays the basic statistics of China (size, population, gender ratio, language, ethnicities, political/social systems, economics), comparing in many cases to the USA.

Part II, Understanding Chinese Holidays for Better Business Outcomes. Definitely useful if you are visiting China for the first time – you don’t want to schedule a business meeting during one of China’s several week-long national holidays, when millions leave their places of work and take to the roads.

Part III, Colors to Use and Avoid in China, outlines cultural pitfalls related to each of the colors, and has this to say on the color red: “Stereotyping [China] with red is but a safe and boring practice.”


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