18 Taboo Gifts in China

Today, official policy in China dictates that giving business gifts is bribery, so take special care. Wait until all negotiations are concluded before offering a gift. It should be clear that the gift is offered from company to company, and the gift must be presented to the Chinese team leader.

This is an excerpt from the China Business Culture Report from BestCountryReports.com

Since taboos and superstitions run strongly in Chinese culture, take care in observing local customs as this also shows respect to your hosts, particularly toward the elderly. When in doubt, ask.

Avoid the following gifts:

  • Gifts given in numbers of four
  • The numeral nine
  • Knives
  • Scissors
  • Other sharp objects
  • Clocks (the Cantonese term for gift giving, sung, and the word for clock, chung, put together mean paying last respects at someone‚Äôs death)
  • Handkerchiefs (represent funerals)
  • Umbrellas (symbolize closing)
  • Green hats (symbolize infidelity)
  • Mirror
  • White or yellow flowers (particularly chrysanthemums) or other white objects (represent funerals)
  • A stork or crane or images thereof
  • Straw sandals
  • Shoes
  • Pears (a homophone for separation)
  • White, gray, or black colors in gifts or wrappings
  • Pens with red ink
  • Anything written with red ink

Be careful out there!

About the Author

Ed HinklemanEdward G. Hinkelman is the founder, publisher and CEO of World Trade Press. His expertise in international trade comes from over 30 years as an importer and exporter of commercial and consumer products. He has traveled to more than 67 countries in the process. He is the author of the industry standard Dictionary of International Trade, now in its 8th edition, and the largest-selling reference book in the world for trade and logistics.View all posts by Ed Hinkleman