Top Navigation

Gesture in China

Gesture in China

  1. The western custom of shaking hands is the customary form of greeting, but often a nod of the head or slight bow is sufficient. Hugging and kissing when greeting are uncommon.
  2. Business cards are often exchanged, and yours should be printed in your own language and in Chinese. Also, it is more respectful to present your card (or a gift or any other article) using both hands.
  3. The Chinese are enthusiastic applauders. You may be greeted with group clapping, even by small children. When a person is applauded in this fashion it is the custom for that person to return the applause or a “thank you.”
  4. When walking in public places, direct eye contact and staring is uncommon in the larger cities, especially in those areas accustomed to foreign visitors. However, in smaller communities, visitors may be the subject of much curiosity and therefore you may notice some stares.
China Traditional Greeting Gesture

China Traditional Greeting Gesture

  1. Generally speaking, the Chinese are not a touch-oriented society (especially true for visitors). So avoid touching or any prolonged form of body contact.
  2. Public displays of affection are very rare. On the other hand, you may note people of the same sex walking hand-in-hand, which is simply a gesture of friendship.
  3. Don’t worry about a bit of pushing and shoving in stores or when groups board public buses or trains. Apologies are neither offered nor expected.
  4. Personal space is much less in China. The Chinese will stand much closer than Westerners.
  1. To beckon someone, the palm faces downward and the fingers are moved in a scratching motion. Avoid use the index finger, palm up and toward you, in a back forth curling motion toward your body. That gesture is used only for animals and can be considered rude.
  2. The open hand is used for pointing (not just one or two fingers,)
  3. Also, avoid using your feet to gesture or to move or touch other objects because the feet are considered lowly and dirty.
Children Gestures

Children Gestures

  1. Avoid being physically intimidating (be humble), especially with older or more senior people.
  2. Posture is important, so don’t slouch or put your feet on desks or chairs.
  3. Silence is perfectly acceptable and customary. Silence (listening) is a sign of politeness and of contemplation. During conversations, be especially careful about interrupting.
  4. Chinese like to avoid saying “no.” A gesture that is often used to signal “no” or that “something is very difficult” (pausing to rethink) is to tip the head backward and audibly suck air in through the teeth.
  5. On public streets, spitting and blowing the nose without the benefit of a handkerchief is fairly common, although the government is waging a campaign to reduce this in the cities. It used to be regarded as ridding the body of a waste- an act of personal hygiene. However, today it is a sign of “low” class or uneducated.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply