In the middle of July I'm going to Beijing for 2 months. I will be working there with some Chinese students.
I'd like to know what actions and behaviour are seen in China as faux-pas?
What topics should I avoid to not offend anyone ?
I admit that I didn't go over your blog carefully so If there is an answer just ignore me ^^
Dear Polish Girl
On a drunken bender Ollie, the Dutch guy, two Israelis and me burnt the town down and ended up making a sick joke in a Beijing sex shop. This is of course a contentious issue as there are tons of old people who will not like it while young people are generally easier going.
Some simple ones are of course:
1989 4th and 5th of June the reasoning for this is pretty obvious, this is EXCEPTIONALLY taboo especially in middle class families. Also Taiwan, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, mine disasters, how shit the commie government are etc. Some people will talk about it, a bloke in the 365Inn told me yes he was involved he said we tried we really did.
Questions such as:
When you die do you... you will likely be cut off here (ironically) dead in the sentence.
Chopsticks left standing in rice, again another death related thing. However since Beijing people don't actually eat rice this is easy to avoid.
Did I say don't talk about death?
A related point is never to pet name somebody after somebody who is dead again this is bad.
Face is important, do not openly criticise or worse humiliate people if they mess something up be gentle and try have a private word later. But open humiliation and belittling is a no no, loss of face is very bad. When you go out to dinner you are giving the host face, don't spoil it!
If you are in a leadership role be specific.
- Addressing somebody it is surname first, Faye Wong for example is not Faye Wong but Wong Fei or Wong-Jing-Man or whatever the hell she calls herself these days.
- Seriously don't ask for vinegar in Chinese restaurants this is to save YOUR face.
- Doorways and entryways, step OVER the threshold never on it, stepping onto the this is a grave insult, I have looked high and low but have never found the reasoning for this.
- Don't point unless you are being insulting to somebody. Use an open hand instead.
- Business cards are handed name facing towards them both hands, same with gifts.
- You'll be invited for tea (watch out for the tea house scam they target white people), when you have tea where they use a tea pot capable of more than one cup you pour tea for the other person and they should do this back to you. When it is being poured tap lightly with your finger next to the cup as a sign of respect.
- When you put the tea pot down don't point the spout towards anybody face it outwards to nobody.
- Euphemise, while people of Europe and the USA will say fuck me she's ugly or butter face Chinese people will say oh she must have beautiful hand writing.
- Travelling on the Beijing Metro, don't bring a bag, you will be endlessly scanned searched etc which will annoy others.
- Ni Hao is old and boring, 你吃了吗 Ni （third tone) Chi(first) Le( First) Ma( third) - literally have you eaten yet? (People still greet me with this in the UK and I'm always eating.
- Be punctual lateness is a sign of disrespect.
- Receiving a gift? refuse a few times first. Then open later on
- Eat what is offered at dinners booze, and strange foods included.
- Don't use red ink to my dad's dismay I write EVERYTHING in Red ball point pen red everything else though is fine as it is a lucky colour
- Don't be insulted by the way people will come up to you and ask all sorts of things they won't as you back home. Hey TCG how much does a working girl cost back home? Are you married? Why the hell now? Oh how old are you? How much money do you make? blah blah.
However don't take the above as gospel as things change and people change and people will not be horrifically insulted if you do the don't do things above and will likely overlook things, Though as said the face issue death and politics are the biggies here.