As the Chinese New Year celebrations draw to a close, we publish an excerpt from our very first business title, "The Lowdown: Business Etiquette - China". Here author Florian Loloum talks a bit about the importance of new year celebrations and what to be aware of if you're doing business in China...
"Speaking of time and making decisions, it might be worth mentioning that most Chinese people take important decisions only at the most opportune time – times which are usually associated with the Chinese traditions and festivals. Festivals in China are based on the Chinese lunar calendar.
The most important celebration of the year is Chinese New Year – which I’m sure you’ve heard of. This usually falls sometime in February. People get together with their families at this time, and very few businesses remain open. So you might want to avoid arranging a business trip at this time of the year. However, it’s a very good idea to send cards with your good wishes to all your contacts in China at this time. The 7th lunar month is also noteworthy.
The date is different every year, but it’s usually sometime between August and September. You can do an internet search to find out exactly when it is in any given year. The 7th lunar month is associated with the notion of death, and during this month, most Chinese will burn paper money on the streets and light up firecrackers for the Ghost Festival. But it’s not a good idea to organize a negotiation or a business event during this period.
The only events where a foreigner is invited to give money are weddings and Chinese New Year. For New Year, the money should be given in red envelopes (called ‘Hong Bao’), and they should only be given to people lower in the hierarchy – for example, older to younger, manager to subordinate, supplier to clients, and so on." - Florian Loloum
Photo by AnnieGreenSprings