China: Public Behaviour

2015-06-12

Public Behaviour

The Chinese will sometimes nod as an initial greeting. Bowing is seldom used except in ceremonies. Handshakes are also popular; wait, however, for your Chinese counterpart to initiate the gesture.

If you visit a school, theater, or other workplace, it is likely that you will be greeted with applause as a sign of welcome. In turn, you should respond by applauding back.

Avoid making expansive gestures and using unusual facial expressions

The Chinese do not use their hands when speaking, and will only become annoyed with a speaker who does.

Some hand gestures, however, are necessary. They are outlined in the next two points.

To summon attention, turn your palm down, waving your fingers toward yourself.

Use your whole hand rather than your index finger to point.

The Chinese, especially those who are older and in positions of authority, dislike being touched by strangers.

Acknowledge the most senior person in a group first.

Smiling is not as noticeable in China, since there is a heavy emphasis on repressing emotion.

Members of the same sex may hold hands in public in order to show friendliness.

Public displays of affection between the sexes are frowned upon.

Do not put your hands in your mouth, as it is considered vulgar. Consequently, when in public, avoid biting your nails, removing food from your teeth, and similar practices.

Pushing and cutting ahead is common in lineups among Chinese, but they do not appreciate being cut in front of themselves.

Spitting in public is no longer acceptable. It is subject to a heavy fine now.

Blowing your nose with a handkerchief is also acceptable, but it is advisable to turn away from people while doing so.