We have put together the 6 most important China travel tips before your adventure to the People’s Republic begins. Fascinating impressions, experiences and top experiences attract. But hardly any other country has such great cultural differences to Germany as the huge country in Asia. This often leads to a little culture shock and strange self-consciousness, which can, however, be prevented by informing people in good time. See AceinLand to learn more about business opportunities in China.
Misunderstandings in everyday life, on vacation or business trips are characterized by ignorance about the country on the other side of the world. It can certainly be important for your own intercultural competence to follow up and keep in mind the many differences between Germany and China. Now read on to find out the best tricks.
Harmony, sociability and power distance
Never “lose face” – a phrase that is closely associated with the Chinese population. The reputation and esteem that a person has should never be damaged. While in Germany clarity and an open discussion about personal shortcomings are often valued, in China this is an absolute taboo: people don’t talk about their own shortcomings.
Show your anger openly? Chinese people will never lose composure in public and instead maintain harmony. Whether this is always an advantage remains to be seen. But as a visitor to the distant land, this desire for harmony should always be taken into account and respected.
Hierarchies in companies in Germany are often kept flat in order to create a better working atmosphere. In the People’s Republic of China this looks completely different. There is a great awareness of hierarchies in the country, which are reflected in society and in working life. Obedience, respect and recognition towards people of higher status are a given. In this respect, we are talking about a large power distance that every Chinese adheres to.
Rituals are omnipresent in everyday Chinese life and are celebrated conscientiously. The rituals are often legitimized by traditions and were already carried out by the ancestors. It starts with the well-known tea ceremony and doesn’t end with the strictly ritualized handing over of a business card.
Chinese culture is performance-oriented. Leisure time plays a subordinate role. Rather, performance is demanded and given – at school, in studies and at work. This pressure to perform is noticeable for every single Chinese person and is experienced separately. Nevertheless, there is collectivism, because the well-being of the community always takes precedence over the well-being of the individual. For visitors, this collectivism is evident in the popularity of group activities among Chinese people.
- Stay calm even in the face of differences
- do not criticize people openly
- Exercise respect for people in higher positions
- Respect rituals
- Consider collectivism
The New Year and other Chinese holidays
Like every country, the People’s Republic of China also has its own public holidays. First and foremost is the most famous: the New Year celebrations. This does not take place on January 1st, but between January 21st and February 21st – a calendar day with a new moon. The New Year is welcomed with fireworks and the celebrations last a whole week. This week all Chinese people have the day off, which is an absolute specialty in the country. Other well-known festivals include the Lantern Festival, the Moon Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival.
Eating habits and table manners in China
The eating habits in the People’s Republic of China are very different from those in Germany. This is not only reflected in the meals (everything is served warm) and the times when the food is taken, but especially in the table manners. Food plays a very important role in Chinese culture. No wonder that it often takes place at a round table where you can maintain your social contacts in a relaxed manner.
In China, when eating, there is always a seating arrangement, a host who places the order and never a separate dish for a single person. You eat from bowls that are placed in the middle for all guests. To ensure that foreign guests avoid any faux pas when eating, the following information is important:
- never order the same dish more than once
- You bring your own chopsticks and never stick them in the rice
- Smoking at the dining tables is permitted and often practiced
- Loud conversations are common, as are smacking and belching
It is often strange, especially for Germans, to draw attention to themselves at the table by smacking their lips. The same applies when lighting a cigarette and smoking comfortably. In China, this is completely normal at the table – as long as you don’t smoke alone and politely offer a cigarette to your male neighbors!
Time zones: one for all
The People’s Republic of China is a huge country. It wouldn’t be surprising if time ticked differently in each region. But far from it, only one time applies, and that has been in Beijing since 1949. Despite a total of five different time zones, residents and guests in China never need to adjust their watches when traveling.
For the residents of China it is self-evident, but sometimes very surprising for tourists: due to the geographically distant regions and the uniform time, in some places it is pitch black at 3 p.m., while elsewhere people do their shopping at midnight. When it comes to border traffic, there are also situations that are quite strange for Europeans – anyone traveling to Afghanistan, for example, has to set their clock back 3.5 hours at the border.
Means of payment – card rather than cash
Anyone traveling to the People’s Republic of China should consider the financial aspects in advance, as you cannot pay with the euro there. Instead, paying with a credit card is very common in China. It would be better to exchange cash directly in China rather than in Germany in advance. The official national currency in China is the renminbi (also called yuan).
Avoid making mistakes
The Chinese are often quite lenient with visitors from other countries if they occasionally make a cultural mistake. But in case of doubt, this doesn’t have to be the case if the following is taken into account:
- No blowing your nose in public
- Never eat all of the dishes at mealtime
- Do not bring flowers as a guest gift
- Don’t bring up topics like politics, religion or sex during small talk
- Don’t point your fingers (or feet) at anyone
Anyone who is interested in foreign cultures will be able to quickly adapt to the People’s Republic of China. It is precisely the “differentness” of Asian countries in terms of culture, tradition and rituals that attracts many tourists every year. And anyone who doesn’t say goodbye with a pat on the back or a hug, which are very frowned upon in China, is also welcome back.