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Business Gift-giving in China

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1. Countries in the world with a Chinese cultural influence, a collectivist attitude, accept gifts with a reserved demeanor. In order not to appear greedy, a gift will not be immediately taken, but refused three times before finally being accepted. Each time it’s refused, you as the giver must graciously continue to offer the gift. And once it’s taken, tell the person you’re happy it’s been accepted.

2. The gift is offered using both hands and must be gift-wrapped; though it won’t be opened it front of you. It will be set aside and opened later. This tradition eliminates any concern that the recipient’s face might show any disappointment with the gift.

3. In China, official business policy considers gifts as bribes, which are illegal. Though the policy is softening, there may be times when a gift you offer will absolutely not be accepted. Should you find yourself in this situation, graciously say you understand and withdraw it. Waiting until negotiations have concluded will eliminate the appearance of bribery when a gift is presented.

4. A good guideline if there’s a concern is to offer a gift, saying you’re giving it on behalf of your company. It’s important to always honor the most senior person, so he will be the individual you actually present with the gift, stating you want him to accept it on behalf of his company. This gesture, company to company, will usually circumvent any problem regarding undue influence. If you have several gifts to present, never give the same item to people of different rank or stature. The more senior the person, the more expensive the gift.

5. Typically one person is not singled out to receive a special gift, especially in front of a group. If you’ve established a good working relationship with someone and want to give a gift, arrange a time when the two of you are alone to present it. Then when you do give it, be sure to say it’s being offered as a gesture of your friendship, not business.

6. A gift’s value should be commensuratewith the level of the business dealings. This applies both to an individual’s gift and a corporate gift. There are times when an expensive gift fits the occasion and circumstance, but an overly extravagant one could create complications or embarrassment, as the recipient may not be able to reciprocate.

7. In Chinese culture symbolism is important, with colors and numbers having special meaning. For instance, at Chinese New Year, money may be given in a red envelope; it must be even amount, using an even number of new bills. Red is a lucky color; pink and yellow represent happiness; and the number 8 is the luckiest number. The colors black, white and blue and four of anything, are negatively associated with death or funerals. Also included in this category are clocks, handkerchiefs, and straw sandals. Sharp objects like knives or scissors represent a ‘severing of a friendship or relationship’- including a business relationship.

8. You don’t want to inadvertently select a gift that has a negative or unlucky association. And because of the symbolism, it can happen. For instance, a fine writing pen would be a good gift, unless it has red ink.

9. Early in your business relationships, you may want to make your gift selections from a local store where you’ll be given the proper information and direction. At least it’s wise to have items gift wrapped once you’ve arrived in the country, to eliminate incorrect choices for colors and types of paper.


Ex. 2. Now read the article again and decide if the following sentences are true or false and correct the false ones:

1) The Chinese take the offered gifts immediately and very enthusiastically.

2) The Chinese don’t open the gift immediately because they are afraid to demonstrate their disappointment in case they do not like it.

3)You should offer your gift before the negotiations.

4) Personal gifts are preferable to corporate ones.

5) You should avoid giving gifts to one person in front of the group.

6) It is a good idea to offer a gift of the blue color.

7) It’s a good idea to choose gifts in a local shop.

Ex. 3. Match the two parts of the sentences:

1) Not to seem greedy a) aside and opened later
2) The gifts are usually set b) make sure it looks as a gesture of friendship
3) Although the policy concerning gifts is softening c) you should refuse to accept the gift three times
4) When you offer your gift d) severing relations
5) Sharp objects represent e) your gift may be rejected

Vocabulary Study


Ex. 4. Find in the text the words that mean:

1) the way you look and behave (par. 1)

2) the crime of giving money or presents to someone so that they will help you by doing something illegal (par. 3)

3) public respect and popularity (par. 4)

4) to find a way of avoiding a rule or a law that limits you (par. 4)

5) intended to be suitable for the quality, status or value of something or somebody (par. 6)

6) to do the same thing for smb. that they have done for you (par. 6)

7) to end a relationship completely and permanently (par. 8)


Ex. 5. Find in the text the opposites to the following words:

1) generous (par. 1);

2) giver (par. 2);

3) to toughen, to make stricter (par. 3);

4) odd (number) (par. 7);

5) on purpose (par. 8)


Ex. 6. Fill in the gaps with the correct prepositions (if necessary):

1) This rule applies … everyone.

2) In China you’d better offer a gift … behalf … your company.

3) A bonus should be commensurate … the employee’s performance.

4) Our guests presented us … beautiful souvenirs.

5) We decided to withdraw … our business proposal.


Ex. 7. Complete the sentences with one of these words:

Extravagant, concern, eliminate, inadvertently, single out

1) He expressed some (…) that the gift was too expensive.

2) I clarified all the details of the deal to (…) any misunderstanding.

3) Two students were (…) as the most successful in the group.

4) A too (…) gift may be regarded as a bribe.

5) I’ve chosen this color (…)! I didn’t know that it has a negative association in the Chinese culture!


Ex. 8. Give collocations from the text:

1) gift a) influence
2) reserved b) good relations
3) conclude c) demeanor
4) undue d) extravagant
5) overly e) wrap
6) establish f) sandals
7) even g) negotiations
8) straw h) number


Ex. 9. Fill in the table:

Nouns Verb adjective
1) appear -
2) 3) soft
4,5) bribe -
6) embarrass 7)
reciprocity 8) reciprocal
9) 10) complicated
11) symbol 12) symbolic(al)




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