UPDATE: As of February 2011, Skype works fine in China, albeit slow and choppy at times.
This article focuses on specifics of doing business in China. Throughout the rest of the Complete China Guide you’ll find business tips as well.
- If someone hands you a business card, always take it with two hands.
- If you hand a business card to someone, make sure the writing faces the person to whom you are giving the card.
- Do not immediately put the business card away in your coat or wallet, keep it visible and in your hand.
- If you are seated at a table, keep the business card face up on the table.
Planning / Making Schedules
For the most part, Chinese people are extemporaneous. Things happen on the fly, sometimes without any notice. With the language barrier, a non-native speaker is sure to be confused. “Where are we going?” “What’s happening?” Sometimes friends will call you to go out to dinner with an hour’s notice. Once I actually got a wedding invitation with 30 minutes to spare. Chinese people absolutely love it when other people randomly show up at their door, unannounced. Try to embrace this. It is not meant to be rude and is not considered imposing.
Cell Phones / Phone calls
- Cell phone etiquette in China is much different than other countries — cell phones get answered (at dinner, at a wedding, while you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone.) If you’re talking to someone and their phone rings, be patient and wait.
- Also, when someone calls you in China, they will let it ring at least 10-15 times. If you do not pick up, they will call you right back.
- The Chinese do not rely on, or use messaging or voicemail, and it is rare that anyone will have an answering machine in their house.
- Immediately after you dial someone’s phone number, you will hear music or an advertisement instead of the normal “ringing” you usually hear in the West. This is normal. People can pick the song they want to play when others call them.
- Skype phone calls are in the process of being blocked in China (as of September 2007). SkypeOut (or, outbound calls at the $0.02 / minute rate) will most likely be blocked in the near future. However, if you have a Skype buddy online at the same time, you may be able to call them using Skype’s general “voice chat” mode (the free service), or you can IM/chat with them.