China: Appointment Alert!


Appointment Alert!

Appointments are a must for business in China! If possible, schedule meetings a week in advance. Since the Chinese want to know whom they will be meeting, provide details on titles, positions, and responsibilities of attendees ahead of time. Agreeing on an agenda upfront can also be useful. If you are trying to meet with company executives or high-ranking officials, be prepared for extensive back-and-forth communications until everything is finalized, and do not postpone or cancel meetings on short notice.

Telephone is the most convenient and efficient way to make an appointment. E-mail contact is also used, but a call has to follow since many Chinese don’t have the habit of checking their emails regularly. Punctuality expectations largely depend on the meeting participants’ status and rank. The Chinese are careful not to waste a senior person’s time. Being late to a meeting or social event without having a valid and plausible excuse can be a serious affront, so it’s usually best to show up right on time or 5-10 minutes earlier. Meetings with lower-level managers are typically more flexible and may not even have a set start time. In that case, arrive at your convenience and be prepared to perhaps wait for a while.

The business hours are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday to Friday. Since some companies run a flexible schedule, it’s better to arrange meetings from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM and from 1:30 PM to 5:30 PM. Lunch hour is usually around 12:00 AM-1:00 PM.

The major Chinese holidays are as below:

New Year’s Eve: January 1
Chinese New Year: it varies according to the lunar Calendar, but generally around the end of January to mid February.
Tomb-Sweeping Day: April 5th
Labour’s Day: May 1th – May 3th
Mid-autumn Festival: August 15th (lunar calendar)
National Day: October 1th – October 7th
The holiday will be slightly changed sometimes if it’s on a weekend.