Gifting Ettiquates In China
Should I bring a gift? How much to spend?
As for the value of the gift, it is better to buy something which does cost over $100. Please remember that expensive gifts are discouraged by many Chinese companies, especially if they are government owned.
Who to gift and when?
Apart from Lunar Chinese New Year mid autumn festival (sometime in August) is another important occasion when traditionally greetings and gifts are accepted. Avoid greetings or gifts during Qing Ming when most Chinese refrain from buying new things or start a new venture.
If you are visiting factory or supplier's office you may want to carry gifts for the general manager (usually business owner), their export manager (translator) and other important people who will have frequent contact with your team. Chinese businesses are hierarchal in nature, so give gifts to senior most member first, followed by others in the pecking order.
The dos and many don’ts of gifting in China
Numbers: Even modern Chinese businessmen believe in traditional numerology. Number 8 is considered lucky while number four is considered to bring bad luck. You will not see the floors with numbers ending in 4. 13 is not considered a bad number in China while 14 is always written as 13A. Avoid 4 at all cost
Animal Figurines: Although many businessmen would deny believing in Feng Shui but you cannot miss depiction of arts and figurines with images of fish, frogs, lotus or laughing Buddha. Dragon symbolizes good fortune while the frog is a harbinger of good luck. The fish symbolizes abundance.
Flowers: A bouquet of flowers is perfectly acceptable. Explain to local florist in China the reason for sending flowers and they can make one keeping local sensitivities in mind. Lily, Orchid and Chrysanthemum (except white and yellow) can be part of any floral bouquet while Poplar or Chinese Aspen should be avoided.
Objects: Watches and clocks represent running out of time or death so they are not given as gifts. Also to avoid handkerchiefs (who uses nowadays), mirrors or umbrella which signifies a breakup of a relationship. A hat, especially a green one means cheating spouse, avoid all hats to be on the safe side.
Do not open a gift in front of the host as it is considered very rude. It is unlikely you will be invited to any wedding but if you do get invited, it is acceptable to gift money in red envelop. Bring food items at a dinner party is rude while giving packaged items such as chocolate or wine is acceptable.