The exchange of gifts in Chinese business practices


The ancient Chinese proverb “礼尚往来” (lǐ shàng wǎng lái, “courtesy requires reciprocation”) highlights one of the most curious and talked about aspects of Chinese business etiquette. The first character “礼” (lĭ, “courtesy”) expresses a sense of ceremonial observance for the Chinese, while the word “礼物” (lǐwù, “things of courtesy”) is translated as “gift”.

The exchange of gifts has a very important role in business relationships in China. Various online sources, books and manuals recount the value of tradition, explain how to behave and underscore that official politics prohibit the practice (which is considered corruption). In effect, the penal code of the People’s Republic of China (in the art. 164) clearly states: “Whoever gives money or something else to an agent of an organization, firm or other entity to obtain undue advantage, is punished…”. It is here however that doubts are raised.

How can you give a gift? What distinguishes it from simple corruption? And above all why is it so important in Chinese business relationships? To respond to these questions, we have to take a few steps back. [Read more…]

Win a Yearly VyprVPN Plan (value 119.99 USD) Here at SDC!

Ni hao!

Last month we gave away 3 VPNs: the winners were Jonathan from South Africa, Monica from Italy and Maria from Spain. Today we are back with a new contest.

VyprVPN Premier, one of the VPNs we recommend, got in touch with us to see if we were keen on giving away a yearly plan of their service (value: 119.99 USD) to one of our readers.

They get you guys to know them and you may get a year of VPN for free!

In order to enter the contest, just click here and follow the instructions.

p.s. If you already subscribed to an VyprVPN plan, no worries. The free year will start only with your current plan will expire!

p.p.s. If you’re traveling to China soon and you don’t know what a VPN is, check this. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting…



What’s it like to work for a Chinese boss?

work for a chinese boss

Have you ever been at a point in your job/career when you thought, “I wish I could reinvent myself,” or “restart my career on a different path”? What if I told you I knew of a place where a construction worker became a director of marketing, a sales manager became a journalist, a real estate opportunist started a school, a student became a university economics teacher, and a graphic designer became a CEO (if only for one night).

Such are the opportunities of an emerging market like the big cities of China. But, before you quit your job and throw yourself a going away party, just remember the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

If you have read a newspaper sometime in the past ten years, you may have heard China is quickly becoming the financial center of the world. Obviously, opening a market of this size creates many opportunities. And although we are talking about a 5,000 year-old culture, China only “re-opened” its doors to the business world a mere 35 years ago. This creates an interesting relationship between a very proud nationalist people and what they literally refer to as “outsiders”, or the rest of us non-Chinese folks. [Read more…]

If You Want to Name a Building, Check First With Beijing

building names in beijing

If You Want to Name a Building, Check First With Beijing

China is known for a lot of great things. The Great Wall. Great take-out. And great deals on cheaply manufactured goods. But it is a little-known and rarely heralded fact that is my favorite of all Chinese contributions to our world heritage.

Their buildings have the coolest names.

While most Western buildings are named after architects, politicians – or even worse – corporations, ancient edifices in China retain majestic sounding monikers like Earth Tranquility Palace or Hall of Supreme Harmony. Even the Flatiron Building would have to admit that their names are way cooler than ours.

Granted, most people aren’t going to visit someplace just because it has a cool name. It would also have to have sites worthy of making a voyage halfway around the world. So of all the places that there are to see in China, the spot that gives you both some from Column A and some from Column B (you had to expect there was going to be a Chinese menu crack in here somewhere) is the capital Beijing.  [Read more…]

Travel to Inner Mongolia: The Complete Guide

Rows of yurts in Xilamuren grasslandsRows of yurts in Xilamuren grasslands

In this guide to travel in Inner Mongolia you will find:

As Inner Mongolia is very big, this guide aims to introduce you to some of the region’s key sights and attractions to help you best plan your trip. If you would like more details about a particular place, please comment below.

For more general information about traveling in China such as visas, vaccinations, flights, food etc. be sure to check out this epic 4,000 word complete guide to traveling in China. Just skip to the sections you are most interested in!
[Read more…]

The habits I picked up in China

habits-chinaPretending to dance Gangan Style at any type of party… China has also given me this

Why I had the desire to write this article just today,almost a year and a half since I left China, is easy to say: up until last month I’ve lived in small cities and towns.

The social dynamics were therefore quite different than those of Beijing, Hangzhou or Shanghai, where I spent four years that I would define as… intense.

Last month, however, I moved to London, where the only thing small is the Euro/Sterling exchange. Consequently, the habits large and small have returned that subconsciously bring me back to the land of Chun-Li, the latent sexual fantasy of my generation, grown from Lemonissimo and Street Fighter.

Here are a few:

Using passersby as human shields when crossing the street

This habit goes back to 2008, or my first trip to Beijing, when the avenues of Dongzhimen were harbingers of second thoughts and paralyzing doubts. And so I resolved the problem crossing only when well protected by a crew of travellers.

In London this habit is very useful considering the cars ride on the left!

Cutting in front of people without mercy on the Metro… excuse me, The Tube

Despite being Italian – we are certainly not famous for respecting lines, – in this aspect I was always well-behaved. That is until I landed in China, where if you don’t slalom between those dragging seven tons of potatoes behind them and those on autopilot, hypnotized by what’s happening on their cell phones you’ll never get on the subway. It’s worth mentioning that in London the shoving is less violent and someone might actually say “I’m sorry”.

Among other things, thinking about traffic and lines made me recall this mythic video: [Read more…]

Getting around Shenzhen – The Complete Guide

Shenzhen TaxiA distinctive Shenzhen Taxi

In 2014 Shenzhen was ranked as the most crowded city in China and there are now more than 15 million people living here across seven districts. Somewhat surprisingly the transportation systems manage to cope well with the growing population as the government continues to expand the travel networks across the city. With a little patience and a little knowledge you can expect to move fairly effortlessly from one destination to another.

Shenzhen Metro

The Shenzhen Metro is probably one of the most convenient and easy to understand methods of travel. Fast and efficient subway trains run every 3 to 5 minutes and currently five lines can transfer you to most popular destinations in the city. The subway and trains offer a very high standard of clean, safe and easy travel and stations are announced in both Mandarin and English. Metro tickets are priced according to the distance traveled, and fares vary from 2 Yuan to 11 Yuan. Children under six get to travel free if accompanied by an adult. [Read more…]

Surviving in Laos, useful information for a safe trip

travel to laos

Laos is universally known as a safe country – even international standards such as the Peace Index list this country among the safest places in Southeast Asia. The population is hospitable and relaxed, the atmosphere is tranquil; truly a land that poses no problems for those hoping to visit.

Nevertheless, completely safe places don’t exist, but in Laos so long as you follow the common standards of conduct dictated by good sense – such as not running through the streets waving brand new dollars and not treating people as if you were a colonial landowner visiting their holdings – and you’ll see that your vacation will be exceedingly relaxing.

It is good to remember that as is often the case in Asia, Laoatian law carries the death penalty for certain crimes such as sexual assault and drug trafficking. Another crime carrying capital punishment is high treason, but here we won’t go into your relationship with the communist party that governs Laos. [Read more…]

Xiamen (Amoy), A Small Portrait of a Liveable Chinese City (or that Tries to Be)

xiamen portrait china

This article was written by Ángel Lázaro, co-founder of An Nà (安娜), a project which defines itself as:

The combination of our knowledge, culture and languages to establish a cultural and business connection, mainly on the local level (Barcelona and Xiamen), between two cities with very similar profiles (tourism, markets, maritime and trade tradition, new open economy…), without neglecting the cultural context (Hispanic and Chinese).

Introduction to Xiamen

Xiamen (厦门市), Amoy in the “Minnan” language, is among the Chinese cities that aren’t tourist or important economic destinations for visitors or investors outside of China, forming part of the so-called “second-tier cities.” Among this group, it is worth mentioning Qingdao (Shandong), Hangzhou (Zhejiang), Chengdu (Sichuan) and Kunming (Yunnan). [Read more…]

Zodiac signs and the Chinese horoscope

Chinese zodiac

After years of continuous requests, here’s an article about the Chinese Zodiac : )

The Chinese Zodiac, or shengxiao (生肖), has twelve symbols, just like the western one (given to us by the ancient Greeks). And, even in this case, each sign is associated with particular character traits. The difference is that while in our Zodiac each symbols corresponds with a certain month, the Chinese Zodiac corresponds with a particular year, For example, 2015 is the year of the Goat!

Why does each sign correspond with an animal?

It is said that Buddha, when he was near to dying, gathered all animals of the earth. However only twelve bothered to come say goodbye. So he – being magnanimous as few others could – decided to reward them by baptizing each lunar phase with the name of one of the animals that came. The first to show up was the mouse (never trust the rats). After that, arriving in order were the buffalo, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig (the usual latecomer). [Read more…]