With the increase of China’s presence in the world stage in recent years, more and more people have made international connections with Chinese people living there. Whether these are personal friendships, family connections, or business relationships, maintaining these transnational relations can be difficult. And what better way to strengthen these connections than to send gifts to China during festive or special occasions, as generosity is an enormous part of Chinese culture! When you send gifts to China, you are showing respect for the culture, the connection and their general wellbeing.
However, there are definitely some customs you should consider when you send gifts to China. Due to their strong traditions and cultures, goodwill may be received negatively if the present’s meaning was not thoughtfully deliberated on. Here are some tips on how and what to send gifts to China.
Although your goodwill may be appreciated after a meeting or event, it will not leave a good impression if it was received a month after its occurrence. Remember that Australia and China are quite distant countries, and when you send gifts to China through local post, it may take 3 – 12 weeks for arrival. Additionally, the process can be quite arduous as it has to go through customs, which is quite strict. However, this is the cheaper option if you plan at least a month in advance.
If you want to send gifts to China at a much faster delivery rate, you can use an Online Gifting Service, which can deliver parcels in days without worrying about customs. These services can deliver flowers, chocolates, liquor or baskets of food – all items that are greatly appreciated in Chinese culture.
The third option is to buy the item through a Chinese shopping portal, such as Taobao or jd.com. These portals have become immensely popular in recent years thanks to its cheap delivery rates and rapid times. However, a drawback is that you do require a Chinese credit card, and the ability to read Chinese!
- Corporate presents are expected
Although business relationships are more casual in Western culture, it is quite the opposite in Chinese customs. Present-giving is not only a nice idea, it is actually expected. Especially in occasions such as a first meeting and business deals, when you send gifts to China you are signifying a genuine investment into the relationship on a personal level.
For corporate present ideas, consider the typical ones such as chocolates, high quality liquor (especially wine), desk accessories or pens. Products that are unique or specialized from your home country will particularly be appreciated. For example, the Chinese have recently developed a taste for Australian wine, due to its lighter flavours and good reputation. When you send gifts to China, ensure that the value of the token correlates with the sincerity of the relationship – be careful not to overdo or underdo the present, as it may be taken as an offense if a cheap pen was presented to a senior associate.
- Cultural traditions, taboos and festivities
It is incredibly important to be aware of Chinese culture’s particularities when you send gifts to China. The most well-known tradition is the colour red, as a sign of auspicious luck, prosperity and fortune. In addition, pink and yellow signify happiness, whilst white, black and blue symbolize death and sickness.
Other things to avoid when you send gifts to China include clocks, which represent time running out, and sharp objects such as knives, which represent severing the relationship. Four is an extremely unlucky numbers due to its homophone sound to death, whilst 8 and 9 symbolise auspicious fortune and longevity respectively.
Chinese festivities should also be kept in mind, as some holidays require presents whilst others are more about food and celebration. For example, it is customary that for Chinese New Year, money in a red envelope (hong bao) is a traditional present, but when received in political environments it can be seen as a bribe. During lunar festival, moon-cakes and baskets of fruit are popular presents received with much joy.
These tips should aid the process when you send gifts to China. Remember that it is, after all, a way of strengthening a relationship, so keep in mind that you should be doing it out of generosity and goodwill – and your recipient will kindly reciprocate the nice gesture.