Beijing: Understanding Chinese etiquette before you go

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Venture anywhere in this world and you'll encounter a new set of customs and traditions quite unlike what you'll find in your hometown. We would dare say that even 50 miles outside your front door you'd probably come across perhaps a slightly different worldview, a different way of life.

You'd better believe if you take a locum tenens assignment in China that you'll discover an enchanting culture steeped in tradition. That said a crash course in local etiquette isn't a bad idea. Luckily, that's what we've put together for you. Heading to Beijing? Learn your manners right here.

Meet and greet


When you meet someone new in Beijing, be sure to give a firm handshake and a cordial nod - bowing is no longer custom. Also, if this new acquaintance offers you their business card then accept it with both hands open. It's polite to pay attention to the card, read it over then set it aside safely in your pocket or wallet. Hand them your business card and you'll see this new acquaintance of yours will do the very same.

Learn a little Mandarin

It's always a good idea if you're traveling to a new place where they don't speak your language to take time to learn a few greetings and sayings. Stick with the basics for starters: "nǐ hǎo" (hello), "wǒ de míngzì shì" (my name is), "zàijiàn" (goodbye) and "xièxiè" (thanks). You can find a quick Mandarin guide here.

Table manners

Make sure you never leave your chopsticks sticking in an upright manner in your rice bowl. That represents that someone has died. Doing so is a way to honor the dead but it is considered inappropriate at the table. Also, keep your utensils to your own plate along with no licking your chopsticks, no stabbing your food with your chopsticks, and no pointing your chopsticks at others around the table. All of this is considered disrespectful. One last thing: while it's not necessary to clean every crumb off your plate, do make sure you finish what's on your plate as best you can.

If you want to learn a bit more about etiquette in Beijing, you can find a wealth of information on this website.
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