What to consider when doing business in China

So far we’ve been to France, Germany and Italy on our infographic tour. This time we’re flying to Asia to look at the language and cultural considerations to take into account when doing business and market research in China. As a large country with a complex and rich history, there’s a lot to consider in order to gain valuable insights and build successful relationships. As we addressed in our recent blog post, it’s important to get the language right when doing business in China.


  • Mode of address is very important. In China, respect must always been shown for elders and those with higher levels of seniority by using formal modes of address.
  • Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world.
  • If you have marketing materials or a press release to translate bear in mind that your text may decrease by up to 30%.
  • The written and verbal use of language varies throughout China so it’s worth mentioning the area you’re going to do business in before translating any materials or hiring an interpreter for meetings. The language has two main scripts: Traditional and Simplified Chinese and two main dialects: Mandarin and Cantonese.


  • Chinese culture is full of superstition which must be taken seriously. For example, the number 8 is considered lucky in China as it sounds similar to the Chinese word for ‘prosper’. However, the number 4 is deemed very unlucky as it sounds similar to their word for ‘death’. The number 14, or any combination of numbers adding up to 14, is associated with failure or certain death and are best avoided.
  • When exchanging anything of value, like business cards or gifts, always use two hands to be polite and replicate the etiquette of Chinese culture.
  • Moustaches are considered bad luck in China so bear in mind that having one may lower your status.
  • Red, yellow and green are considered lucky colours in Chinese culture. Red is used widely in everyday life as it symbolises success, beauty, happiness and good fortune. Green symbolises money and yellow is connected to royalty and the power of the throne. Alternatively, anything white or black in considered unlucky as these colours are associated with loss, mourning and misfortune.
  • Before going to a business meeting in China, make sure your business card is translated into Chinese, including your job title, with English on the other side.
  • There are 23 national holidays in China so check our infographic before planning market research or business to avoid times of low availability with colleagues and suppliers.


To China and beyond

At The Language Factory, we know how important local knowledge of both language and culture is which is why we only work with qualified, mother-tongue translators who know their native language and culture very well. Our translators are members of professional industry bodies, such as the ITI, which means they keep up-to-date with best practise and changes in language trends. If you would like advice on translation, transcription or coding for China, get in touch with our team of graduate linguist Project Managers on +44 1727 862722 or email enquiries@thelanguagefactory.co.uk.


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