The Culture of Being a Host and a Guest in China

In the West, guests respect host customs. In China, hosts greet visitors with warmth and respect and let them do as they choose.

Display of friendliness

China uses the term “friend” more freely than the West. On the initial meeting, Chinese will call someone their “friend” if they want the relationship to develop or anything nice to emerge from the acquaintance. Westerners will usually find this premature.

In China, success in life and business depends on your ability to network and build relationships. A Chinese individual may play the role of a generous host even though doing so is not culturally expected in order to reap future benefits from the connection.

Giving and Refusing Gifts

Gifts can be exchanged between the host and the guest, or between the two, and the price tag usually indicates how much thought and consideration went into the selection. However, it is courteous to decline a ride, a seat, or more food in order to show that you are not greedy or seeking to save the host’s time and effort.

Personal Space

Personal space differs from that of the West. In the East, the host is closer to the guest than in the West. In the West, a square meter is plenty of personal space (square yard). In China, physical separation may be rare. As a result, no one says “excuse me” or taps anyone on the shoulder before reaching across the table or cutting in front of them on the sidewalk. 

It’s disrespectful to smoke in a Westerner’s home without asking, especially if they’re nonsmokers. In China, it’s rude to ban smoking in your home, hotel room, or railway compartment. Some trains and buses are smoke-free, thankfully.

asian multi generation grandparent grandchild happiness joyful dinner together at home,holidays, celebration and people concept – happy friends with sparklers having christmas thanksgiving dinner

Seeing the Guest Off

In China, it is customary to bid farewell to visitors. This extends considerably further than the front door. The host will typically walk their guests out to the street and wait with them there until a taxi arrives. In the event that the visitor departs by train, the host will stay on the platform until the departure of the train. It is not something that should be looked upon as a waste of time because it is the obligation of the host.