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How to give gifts in China

Okay, I admit it.  I’m a sucker for infographics. They take the complicated and deep and make it overly simple and I like that.  And I just saw one I really like on gift giving in China.  The infographic is the most recent installment of  Illuminant’s “Chinese Takeout” series of quick bursts on Chinese culture and it is called “Gifts in China: What to Give, What to Avoid.

 

The inforgraphic briefly talks of the whys of China gift giving and then, just as its title states, it graphically shows good gifts and bad gifts. In other words, it tells you how to give gifts in China for the most/best impact.

I was comforted to see that my two gift stand-bys — both in China and everywhere else in the world — get extremely high marks.  I always give a local wine I like or locally smoked salmon from a very long-time firm client.  I give these gifts because I know them to be excellent, because just about everyone likes wine and salmon, and because they have some meaning to me.  Didn’t need an inforgraphic for any of that, but the infographic says that wine and food are good gifts as our items from your own region.  So combining the two must be best of all.

Which leads me back to something we have often said on here about how to deal with Chinese culture? It is good to know Chinese culture but there is no need to get obsessed about it.  Respect and sincerity can go a long way.  Know enough to avoid the big mistakes and you ought to be fine. In other words, do not give anyone in China a clock, but seriously, have any of you ever given or received a clock as a gift anywhere in the world? Way back in 2006, in a post entitled, To Succeed In China Know The Now, we had this to say and it bears repeating again now:

Knowledge of Chinese history and culture is an asset for doing business in China.  However, because circumstances in China change so quickly, staying abreast of China’s current situation is far more important than knowing its past.  Successful businesses in China usually emphasize knowing their own businesses inside and out first, understanding China today second, and China’s history and culture third.

Bottom Line: Do for your business what makes sense in China today, not what might have made sense for some other company years ago.

Chinese gift-giving.  Let’s hear it. What do you think?


Dan Harris is founder of the Harris & Moure law firm, a boutique international law firm focusing on small and medium sized businesses that operate internationally. China is the fastest growing area for the firm. Dan writes ChinaLawBlog.com as a source of China legal and business information.

 

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