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Gift giving and receiving in China

This practice is not official protocol but rather a customary ritual and very common. To help build a solid and friendly business relationship it is advised to take a few gifts along so you are prepared to reciprocate.

When you present a gift there is a ritual for it to be refused a few times out of politeness.

You should also respond similarly when offered a gift.

Don’t open a gift after accepting it unless asked to do so, open it privately.

Don’t take gifts in multiples of four. The Cantonese term for four is thought to have an unlucky meaning.

Chinese love giving and receiving small inexpensive objects or trinkets. Good gifts to give would include things that are representative of Australia like small furry koalas or small kangaroos or key rings, pens, paperweights, diaries and calendars and the like, branded with your company’s logo or Australian insignia.

Don’t give expensive gifts, as this will embarrass the recipient(s).

Avoid giving gifts of:

  • clocks, watches, handkerchiefs or white flowers, as these are equated with death
  • scissors, knives and other cutlery, as these are thought of as severing ties.

The recommended colour for wrapping paper is red.

For further information, please contact Sara Cheng, Manager – Greater China Region.


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Sara Cheng
Senior Manager, China Practice
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Mike Liu
China Trade Advisor
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