Gong Xi Fa Cai, Wan Shi Ru Yi (恭喜发财,万事如意)!

Fear not, I’m not raining any curses on you, and I could almost hear my Nigerian friends saying ‘What year of the Monkey, this is our year of Supernatural Upliftment and Unimaginable Prosperity’.

Chill people, I’ve simply said “Congratulations on your good fortune and may all your ten thousand wishes come true!” This is the official Mandarin greeting for the Chinese New Year, which was on February 8. The New Year celebration lasts for 15 days and dogs get special treats on day one of the celebrations.

etiquette guide china

China overtook the US as the World’s Largest Economy in 2014. Gone are the days when if an item had ‘Made in China’ on it, you’re most likely to scrunch your nose at it as a fake or poorly produced item. The odds are that in today’s world, and irrespective of where you are or what you do, you’re likely to be involved with the Chinese economy.

Here’s a true story, or so I heard.  A City Lawyer was having a business meeting with a Chinese Client, to finalise a huge deal. The Lawyer ordered some rice, and before eating, dipped the chopsticks into the middle of the rice. The Client walked out and that was the end of the business relationship. The reason? Apparently, it’s a taboo to dip your chopsticks into your bowl, as this relates to death and funerals.  Oh well, thank goodness I haven’t mastered the chopstick and I always use a fork.

We recently had a Chinese New Year event at work and had a live Lion Dance! It was pretty cool, even though I really didn’t understand it, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. Anyway, being married to another culture (catch up here and here) and since I believe in respecting and making an attempt to adapt to people’s cultures, here are a few tips and knowledge that may be useful for your next business/social meeting.

Table Manners

-At no point should your chopsticks be upright in the bowl. Also, don’t tap your bowl with your chopsticks. These relate to death and funerals.

-If you can stomach it, eat it! It’s polite to sample all the dishes, and at the end of the meal, you should leave a little on the plate to demonstrate the generosity of the host.

-Ain’t no ‘going Dutch’, the host pays for the entire meal! Way to go people. But don’t let him pay without fighting for it a bit, and offering to pay.

Giving and Receiving Gifts

-Present and receive things with both hands.

-Apparently, you should reject the gift twice at least before accepting it, and only when the giver insists.

-Do not open the gift in front of the giver.

-When wrapping gifts, avoid using white or dark wrapping paper, and avoid wrapping elaborately. Consider festive colours. Red is your best bet. The Chinese love red and brides often wear red dresses!

-Clocks, fans, umbrellas, handkerchiefs, scissors and other sharp items are no-no gifts. Sharp items signify separation.

-Don’t give gifts in fours (including money, so you can’t give someone 1400 Yuan). Connotes death. You can give gifts in sets of 8 though. Symbolizes good fortune or wealth.

-Green hats are a taboo gift. This is because the phrase “to wear a green hat” means ‘to be cuckold by one’s unfaithful wife’. Oops!

General Etiquette

-You don’t have to bow, a handshake is fine.

-Preferred conversation starter – Food, Drinks and all things China. Not Weather!

-Avoid the 3 Ts – Conversations about Taiwan, Tibet, Tiananmen. In addition, conversations regarding politics and state leaders are considered sensitive.

 -For your own good, do not compare China with Japan.

-Say “nin hao” to greet older Chinese people.

-Do not write in red ink, especially peoples names. For some reason, I think Nigerians don’t like this as well.

-Do not for any reason lose your temper or get upset.

-When in China, feign humility and do not accept compliments graciously. So if someone says oh ‘Your coat is pretty’, You should not say ‘I know! It’s so pretty’. Rather say ‘oh I think it is rather ugly’. 

Fun Facts

-In China, every year is represented by one of 12 animals. 2016, is the Year of the Monkey

-Half of all pigs on earth live in China

-The World’s First Paper Money was created in China 1,400 years ago.

-Chinese white dolphins, which live off southern China, are often pink.

-The word ‘ketchup’ may come from a Chinese word for pickled-fish sauce.

-The artistic writing called calligraphy was invented in China.

 -All pandas in the world are on loan from China. The giant panda lives in the misty mountains of central China and nowhere else on Earth.

Giant Pandas come from China

-The Great Wall is more than 2,300 years old. The official length is 21,196.18 km. The mortar used to bind the Great Wall’s stones was made with sticky rice!

-In 2010 a 2,400-year-old pot of soup was unearthed in Xi’an, China

-Put together, all of China’s railway lines could loop around the earth twice!

In retrospect, I’m rather disappointed at myself that I had two Chinese flatmates, and a few Chinese classmates at Cambridge and I still didn’t have much of an experience. My experience is limited to Chinese buffets…Love me some Chinese Fried Rice!

Have you guys had any experience with Chinese folks and expectations/etiquette? How did it go? Please Share!


Kachee… Xx

PS: Now I really really really want to go to China. Is anyone interested? More importantly, anyone willing to pay?


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  1. Tanaka

    March 5, 2016 at 20:41

    Thanks for the lesson, lol! I’ve learnt a lot, might have to bookmark this post!

  2. Kachee || KacheeTee.com

    March 7, 2016 at 12:32

    Lol! I’m glad one person at least found it useful… Xx


    March 14, 2016 at 13:39

    i work with some chinese contractors…………they can smoke ehn……i go into their office and i almost feel like going home to shower…..sighthey are quick to pass comments(nice or not)i learnt some words but i can’t write them…..i tot nin hao meant how are you?have you heard weza hao, sha hu hao, za za hao(good morning,afternoon,evening), min ti jen(see you tomorrow)

    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      April 30, 2016 at 09:11

      Kike ohhh. Looool @ smoke. Me I don’t know ohhhI don’t know any other words oh. Thanks for that! Xx

  4. Josephine A. Bankolé

    April 26, 2016 at 20:44

    I lived in China, for a year some years ago, and this post literally just took me back. How i miss it so. It is simultaneously the most exciting and annoying place in the world.When i lived there , i likened it to nigeria, because the two countries share strong characteristics. You should definitely go! China is beautiful, and there is so much to see, and eat. I had monkey, snake, dolphin etc It was an interesting time LOL. The Great Wall is truly great, Shanghai is AMAZING, and the west lake in Hangzhou, is truly worth a visit amongst other places.and get ready to become a celebrity- they just can’t get enough of melanin!Jowww.theglobalgriot.com

    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      April 30, 2016 at 09:10

      A whole year! That must have been quite an experience. If you have a post on that on your blog, I’ll check it out. I’m making plans to go! I even came across a sweepstake to win a visit to China for two. I think it ends today, but i’ll still try my luck. Who knows?Ehmmm . monkey, snake, dolphin… Lol!!Hahaha @ Melanin!!

  5. Abby

    October 1, 2016 at 14:13

    Interesting facts I never knew about China here! Bookmarked for when I’m planning my trip to China!Xx

    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      October 1, 2016 at 14:15

      Take me with you! Or give me heads up! 😘😘