become an expat in china

10 Things Expats in China Should NEVER Do

A Review of Cultural Rules for International Citizens Living in China

China is a very popular destination for expatriates around the globe. We have tried to put together 10 things that expatriates should avoid and not do when living in this great country. We hope that it will help you enjoy your stay in China.,

1) Give a Chinese person a clock or timepiece as a gift. Clocks are indicative of funerals and your act would be perceived as sinister. Likewise, you should avoid giving flowers as many people associate these with funerals.

2) Force someone to lose face. You should never embarrass or berate a Chinese individual in public. Never point out a mistake or ridicule them as this is considered as one of the worse things you can do.

3) Address people by their first names. In China, the last name always comes first. Always use an individual’s last name unless you are invited to address them otherwise.

4) Get angry in public. Public displays of anger or aggression are frowned upon in China. Try and bite your lip and repress your frustration.

5) Take no as the first answer. Chinese people automatically refuse food or drinks several times. Never take the first “No, thank you” as the real answer. A good guest is supposed to refuse at least once, but a good host is also supposed to make the offer at least twice.

6) Leave chopsticks sticking into your food. Chopsticks left standing in food are said to resemble a tombstone and this represents death, something the Chinese do not like to be reminded of. Return chopsticks to their rest between bites and when stopping to talk.

7) Refer to Hong Kong as a colony or territory. It is now a part of China and many Chinese people take great offence to it being referred to as anything else.

8) Eat all the food on your plate. When dining as a guest you should always leave a little food on your plate at the end of the meal. If you eat everything your host will lose face for providing insufficient food.

9) Give scissors or knives as a gift. They indicate the severing of the relationship.

10) Write on someone’s business card. When offered a business card take it with both hands and place it in front of you for the majority of the meeting or interaction. Treat the card with respect as it seen as indicative of your respect for the card’s owner.

Remember that if you plan to live in China, it is important to get a high-quality international health insurance policy. offers expatriates the ability to request a quote for global healthcare that will cover expatriates living in China.

Author: ExpatInfoDesk