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Cultural differences between Finland and China

Kirjoittanut: Teresa Ikonen - tiimistä Hurma.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.

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Cultural differences between Finland and China


This essay deals with the cultural differences between Finland and China, which as a Finnish woman I should pay attention to if I ever went to a business meeting in China.

I don’t have any business meetings planned for China, but you never know what the future holds. At least after this essay I am prepared for it, and I will have better knowledge of Chinese culture.

The outfit

You need to be careful about what you wear to a business meeting in China. The color of the outfit should be neutral and unobtrusive, and the outfit should also be conservative.

When choosing the outfit, I should avoid high heels and jeans and too much of bare skin. You could wear jeans to a business meeting in Finland, but in China jeans are not a good option. Instead in spare time jeans can be worn by both women and men in China.

Behavior and manners

In China, it is very important for the visitor to arrive early or on time, but by no means late. Physical contact should be avoided in China as it is inappropriate for a man to touch a woman in public. However, if the Chinese offers me their hand, I can shake it. However, it is polite not to be too intrusive.

Another surprising thing in China is that you should not talk about business while eating a meal. In Finland on the other hand, it is common to have a business lunch specifically to talk about work. It is also common in Finland to shake hands or even cuddle, even though Finns are known as a people who want to keep their own personal space.

Taking these matters into account in my own behavior would certainly be challenging, as my own Finnish habits may accidentally emerge.

Gift giving

If I would like to give a gift as a sign of good cooperation, I should wait that I am alone with that person who I want to give the gift to. It is also important that I say that the gift is a sign of our friendship, not of business.

In China, it is polite to refuse a gift three times in order not to seem greedy. The gift giver must kindly offer the gift again and again, and the recipient of the gift must receive the gift with two hands after first refusing three times.

The gift must not be opened in the presence of the giver, this is both polite and seeks to mask any dissatisfaction with the gift.


The more senior the person is, the more expensive the gift should be. The value of the gift should be commensurate with the value of the business done. These are important things to remember, regardless would I be the gift giver or recipient. It is very common in Finland to accept a gift right away, and even to open it immediately in front of the giver.

Cultural symbols such as colors and numbers also play an important role in China. The colors black, white and blue and number four or four of anything, are negatively associated with death or Funerals. Also included in this category are clocks, handkerchiefs, and straw sandals.

So these are the things I should avoid, especially when buying gifts. With all of this in mind, I think it would be a good idea to buy the gift at a local store asking for help.



With this essay I got a lot of interesting new information, because I’ve never been to China. If I will ever travel to China I will surely come back to read this essay and look for much more information about Chinese culture.

I think these things I wrote about are not just stereotypes. Sure, these may not be as well regulated in every situation, but I think it is helpful to be aware of them.

However, the most important thing, regardless of the situation and the country, is to show respect and be friendly to the other person and culture. With utilizing a respectful attitude you can do well even if you do not know every important rule about culture.