Before your visit, it will be a good idea to prepare yourself by studying aspects of Chinese culture, history, and geography. Your hosts will appreciate your initiative. Negative replies are considered impolite. Instead of saying 'no', answer 'maybe', 'I'll think about it', or 'We'll see' and get into specifics later. You'll find that the Chinese will do the same. When your Chinese counterparts smilingly and politely or even enthusiastically say 'No big problem' or 'The problem is not serious', they usually mean 'There are still problems.'

You may be asked intrusive questions concerning your age, income, and marital status. If you don't want to reveal this information, remain polite and give an unspecific answer. Don't express irritation with the questioner, since 'losing face' has such negative implications in this culture. On the other hand, unless you are a very familiar personal friend, do not ask your Chinese hosts about their family although, typically, you can ask 'How old is your child?', 'How long have you been in the work force?' or 'Where is your child studying?' as a means of determining their marital status and age.

In Chinese culture, the question 'Have you eaten?' or or 'Where have you been?' is the equivalent to 'How are you?' in North America; it's just a superficial inquiry that does not require a literal-minded, detailed answer. Simply answer, 'yes', even if you haven't actually eaten or simply smile and say 'thank you.'

Make an effort to learn and use at least a few words in Chinese; your initiative will be noticed and appreciated. Make sure you know the meaning and appropriate occasions for what you say. You may make general inquiries about the health of another's family, such as 'are all in your family well?' During a meal, expressing enthusiasm about the food you are eating is a welcome, and usually expected, topic of conversation. There is no need to avoid mentioning Taiwan. If the subject comes up, never refer to this island as 'The Republic of China' or 'Nationalist China.' The correct term is 'Taiwan Province', or just 'Taiwan.' 'Small talk' is considered especially important at the beginning of a meeting; any of the topics suggested in the next set of points will be appropriate for this occasion.

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