A Chinese Culture Overview

On August 7th, 2011, posted in: Company Blog, News & Info by Comments Off

Official Name – The People’s Republic of China

Population – ~1.3 billion*

Official Language – 7 main Chinese languages including standard Chinese or Mandarin, Cantonese.

Currency – Yuan (CNY) also referred to as the Renminbi (RMB)

Capital city – Beijing

GDP – RMB 39.79 trillion in 2010

GDP Per Capita – RMB 29,748 in 2010*


The most populous country in the world, The People’s Republic of China is today emerging as one of the major global economies. China is infamously known as a country of etiquette and ceremonies. The unique character of the Chinese is built on a strong sense of pride in their ancient history and culture. Understanding the basic Chinese cultural, ethical and business values is paramount to any organisation wanting to conduct business in today’s rapidly progressing China.

Chinese culture – Key concepts and values

Guanxi – In literal terms, this central concept in Chinese culture means ‘relationships’ or ‘connections’. Guanxi is a network of elaborate relationships promoting trust and co-operation and for centuries was the main way of accomplishing everyday tasks. Establishing a sincere, supportive relationship based on mutual respect is a fundamental aspect of Chinese culture. In the world of business, possessing the right guanxi is crucial for ensuring the minimization of difficulties and frustrations that are often encountered.

Mianzi – An important issue that should be considered throughout business interactions with the Chinese is the concept of ‘mianzi’ or ‘face’. Face is a mark of personal pride and forms the basis of an individual’s reputation and social status. In Chinese business culture ‘saving face’, ‘losing face’ and ‘giving face’ are vital for successful business. Causing someone to lose face through public humiliation or inappropriate allocation of respect to individuals within the organization can seriously damage business discussions. On the other hand, praising someone in moderation before their colleagues is a form of ‘giving face’ and can earn respect, loyalty and aid negotiations.

Keqi – The notion of keqi is based on the amalgamation of two Chinese words, ‘ke’ meaning ‘guest’ and ‘qi’ signifying ‘behaviour’. Together, this cultural concept advocates thoughtful, courteous and refined behaviour. In business terms, it is important to demonstrate humility and modesty as exaggerated claims of ability are viewed with suspicion and are likely to be looked into.

Confucianism – The recognised ethical belief system of Confucianism is based on the teachings and writings of the 6th century BCE philosopher Confucius. Emphasis is placed on the concept of relationships and the elements of responsibility and obligation. This Chinese philosophy remains a vital cultural factor in the development of Chinese society and is still effective in Chinese business culture today in the preservation of surface harmony and collective good.

From ChinaDaily