Last week we talked about the three concepts of time, mianzi (face) and guanxi (relationship) that are crucial to understand if you want to do business in China. Now that you know about the importance of these cultural and sociological ideas, let’s get to business with this practical language guide.

The Three Stages


Business meetings in China mostly follow the same pattern: greeting, meeting and eating. Let’s go over some polite forms of address that will leave your Chinese colleagues impressed!

After the basic ni hao-greeting, you can ask your partner how he or she is doing:

  • 最近过的好吗Zuìjìnguò de hao ma? – How have you been lately?
  • 你怎么样Ni zenme yàng? – How are you?

Answer: 很好你呢? Hen hao, ni ne? – Good, and you?

If you’re feeling a bit more confident, here are some more natural sounding greetings you can use to show off your Chinese skills:

  • 好久不见! Haojiu bùjiàn! – Long time no see!
  • 又见面了,你怎么样? 一 切还好吧. Yòu jiànmiànle, ni zenme yàng? Yīqiè hái hao ba. – We meet again. How are you? Everything is ok?
  • 路上辛苦了Lùshàng xīnkule – You must have had a hard journey.

Answer: 有一点You yīdian – A little

Answer不辛苦,没事. Bù xīnku, méishi – It wasn’t hard, no problem

  • 幸会幸会. Xìng huì xìng huì. – A pleasure, our meeting is fortunate
  • 久仰大名. Jiuyang dàmíng – I’ve heard a great deal about you


Do business in China - meetingOf course, when learning Chinese, it’s better to hear it from the pros! Check out his podcast on how to address someone in a polite and respectful way.

If you are in a very formal situation where you need to introduce an important person, let’s say you’re introducing managers, you want to introduce them in the most face-giving manner possible. Be sure to listen to how to act in this kind of situation with ChinesePod.



The language in this section must, due to the nature of business meetings, be reasonably advanced throughout. Reading through the Chinese phrases and most importantly their English translation will give you a good sense of how suggestions and disagreements are put forward in Chinese, which will give you useful insight into how business here works.

Here’s some sample words, sentences and phrases built around discussing a contract (hétóng, 合 同).

Interested in learning more about doing business in China? Read our post on doing successful business in China, with a detailed cultural guide. Find out more about the biggest Tech Giants in China, or read more on why having a Chinese name for your foreign brand is important.

Why not experience doing business in China yourself? Find out more about our programs here!