‘Gift-Giving’ in China

Chinese Business Etiquette & Culture : Gift – Giving!

Gifts are important in Chinese Culture and have several functions:

  • they show esteem and liking;
  • they are to repay a favour or gain the chance of a favour, either now or in future;
  • they are mementoes; and
  • they are expected in certain social situations, such as when invited to visit a home.Christmas-Present-red


You should take a large quantity of gifts with you to China and choose them carefully.

Gifts from your team to the Chinese are of two kinds – there may be one large gift that goes to the group or institution itself, and a small gift that is given to each individual member of the Chinese team. Depending on the size and wealth of your company, the large gift could be :

  • Something that typifies India or Pune, perhaps in Silver or Silk,
  • A mememto of your company with your logo on it;
  • a “coffee table” book that is related in some way to your or their area of interest; or
  • Electronic Items

If you give a book, ensure that your Company Chairman or other suitable VIP has inscribed it before you leave for China; this shows respect and impresses the other side.


Small individual gifts are mementoes only and should be inexpensive. Everyone in the team gets one, including interpreters, and if you have a regular driver, he should be given one too. Take plenty of small inexpensive items with you like:

  • Pens with your logo,
  • Calendars with good scenery of Pune or India,
  • Indian Music CDs, or even movies,
  • Small embroideries
  • Pen stands with Indian Traditional Paintings.

Try to ensure that whatever you take is labelled as Made In India and not Hongkong or Taiwan. This demonstrates that you have given the matter thought and gives face to them and you.

Bad Gifts:

Certain items are better not given as gifts. These include knives (symbolising fighting and antagonism), cut flowers (symbolising funerals and death), watches or clocks (also death associated reminding us that our life is passing) or anything completely pure white in colour or blue/ yellow in combination (death). That said, watches are now prized by the younger generation, who are generally less superstitious than the elders.



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