Gifts in China

Giving and receiving gifts is a part of Chinese culture. Furthermore, it is a symbol of courtesy and goodwill towards others. Now, when it comes to giving gifts in China as part of doing business, there are several things you must consider. At IBMH, we know all about the tradition of gift-giving in China, and so we can tell you with complete confidence what gifts should not be given in China and which gifts are the most appropriate. Let’s take a look!

To gift or not to gift, that is the question

“If I’m doing business with someone in China, should I give them a gift?” This question has probably crossed your mind before. Well, you should know that, while giving gifts is not mandatory, it is looked upon positively. Giving a gift upon closing a deal or after you have worked with someone for a while is seen as a sign of affection and a good omen. Which reminds us…

  • You should not give gifts immediately when you start working with someone from China. It can be taken as a display of excessive familiarity.
  • Gifts should be chosen with the recipient in mind; in other words, they should be personal. They don’t need to be very expensive or flashy.
  • Don’t be surprised if you offer a gift and they refuse it as many as three times. They are simply being polite. It is also normal, when receiving the gift (which you should offer with both hands), for them to save it to be opened in private.


Gifts you should NEVER give in China

As you know, China is a country of culture, ceremony and tradition, and this applies to gifts, too. If you want to make a good impression, never give…

  1. Wall clocks, because the pronunciation of the word in Chinese sounds like the word for ‘funeral rites.’
  2. Chrysanthemums or candles, because they are things used in funerals.
  3. In Chinese, it is pronounced like ‘separation.’
  4. They are seen as a symbol of running away.
  5. Knives, scissors and blades because they symbolize cutting and, therefore, short relationships.
  6. They are not well received because they break so easily.


Negotiations in China: What do I need to know about gifts?

In addition to everything above, there are some other things you need to take into account regarding colors and numbers when giving a gift:

The color white is associated with death and mourning. Red symbolizes good fortune, and yellow represents money. Keep this in mind when wrapping your gifts.

The number 4 is considered bad luck because its pronunciation is similar to the word for ‘death’. Businesspeople in China always avoid gifts that come in sets of four. On the other hand, the number 6 represents harmony because it helps to solve problems.

Gifts for Chinese businesspeople: with these, you’re sure to nail it

So, what gifts can you give a Chinese businessperson? You’ll make a good impression with any of these:

  • A book about the culture of your home country.
  • Any other item relating to that culture, such as crafts or traditional foods from your region.
  • An invitation to lunch is usually well received.


Remember that, whatever gift you decide to give to a businessperson in China, it must be done with the intention of showing your appreciation for the business relationship between the two of you. At IBMH, we know Chinese culture and their way of doing business backwards and forwards. Contact us today and we’ll tell you how we can be your Strategic Purchase Management Office in China for your hardware company with success guaranteed.