Social Life in China
The Chinese are somewhat conservative in most aspects of their lives partially due
to their past Buddhist faith, which preaches modesty and partially due to their
government. However, they are well aware of the world around them as well as the
differences in opinions and behaviors. Because of this they are quite understanding
of various cultures and foreigners so odd behaviors are generally accepted, but
are also looked at oddly and at times looked down upon.
The Chinese people are very proud people and insulting them
or putting a person down in anyway can be very offensive as the person will feel
"shamed." In much the same way, the Chinese will rarely give you critical
advice or insult you in fear of "shaming" you. This is especially true
in business. Turning down a business offer in the wrong way may, unknowingly be
an insult and could force your contact to feel so shamed that he will actually quit
his job; if all hope is lost on a deal, allow your Chinese counterpart to gracefully
exit the situation so he can save "face." However, the opposite is also
becoming more common and if you do (intentionally or unintentionally) insult another,
that person may defend his honor by insulting you and will pursue a shouting match.
Fortunately, this is more common among locals arguing over driving etiquette.
Additionally, avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, religion,
and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. The most important of these
is obviously politics and the Chinese government as these topics can get you or
the locals you are speaking with into trouble, or even jail. Also try to avoid being
loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.