All About Gifting

2 mins read.

Meeting a Chinese business partner or government official and not sure whether to present a gift? We have a few suggestions to offer.

In this article, we assume that you already know the general rule of thumb of what not to purchase, e.g. clock, umbrella and green hat. If you would like to refresh your memory, here is a great article: Dos and Don’ts of Chinese Culture

We categorize organization meetings into two types:
a. Visiting government/State-Owned Enterprise (SOE)
b. Visiting a private company

Visiting Government/SOE

With the ongoing intense anti-corruption movements, we suggest to check with a point of contact whether gifts are allowed, or whether there will be a gift presentation ceremony. If gifts are allowed, we recommend presenting your recipients with symbolic ones like corporate gifts (embossed with your company’s logo), books, samples of your company’s products or something representative of your home country (pewter plates, wooden carving and more).

There is a popular Chinese idiom that goes “goose feather sent from afar; a trifling present with a weighty thought behind it”. This means it is not the gift that counts, but the thought behind it that matters. Keep the cost low, bear in mind that the host may reject the gift if he or she thinks that it is expensive. Remember to gift the most expensive present to the most senior person in the company and to never give the same item to people across different ranks.

Visiting Private Companies

There is more flexibility in private company visits. You can definitely still go by the list above, or you can purchase a present that is slightly more expensive. For example, if you know that this executive is a golf fan, you can proceed with a golf ball gift set. There is no need to buy luxury goods or branded mobile phones.

Our final advice is to always buy two or three extra gifts because it is very common to have last-minute changes to the number of attendees. 

Want to know how best to keep in touch with your contacts? Read our article “The Art of Keeping in Touch.