Relocating from Austria to China? Get the culture!

China is a country with an immense wealth of culture, tradition and history – this is surely a kind of diversity that makes it quite attractive for Austrian expats, and certainly also for expats from other parts of the world.
Moving from Austria to China will mean a unique new experience in your life, but we highly recommend to be prepared to adapt to Chinese lifestyle. It is very important to understand and follow local habits and cultural customs:

The way how you should communicate in China
Chinese communication style differs from typical western methods. It has a tendency to be less direct. A strong emphasis is placed on tact and etiquette. Candid interaction can be viewed as offensive. It is rather appreciated to behave with subtlety and politeness. And it is very uncommon to explicitly disagree with opinions. Calm, controlled conduct and respectful diplomacy are usual features in Chinese culture. And rarely will an individual display anger.

How Chinese people recognize for achievements
Generally in China compliments are accepted in a different way. The Chinese people prefer to either divert the credit for their accomplishments to factors other than themselves, or state that their accomplishments are not worthy of praise. A humble Chinese response to complimentary communication is “Na li Na li,” which translates to “not really,” or “where, where?”. Expats coming from Austria and other non-eastern countries should generally assert humility in interactions and be aware about boasting about achievements.

Your daily life in China
Remember it is absolutely necessary to rely on public transportation in order to get around. All the main cities are densely populated, and driving in China is a challenging task for both locals and expats.
In China there exists a rather deep smoking culture - cigarettes are permitted in many public places and restaurants, which is not the case to that extent for example in Vienna.
When it comes to healthcare, fusions of ancient and modern practices are available, but there aren’t local GP’s. Instead, hospital visits are made to address complaints. There is no expansive state-funded medical system in place in China as we know from other countries. That means a private health insurance can be expensive, and some expats prefer to have an adequate ‘exit strategy’ to seek foreign healthcare if necessary.

Hierarchy counts more in China
Don’t forget that your status, or hierarchical level within an organisation in China will directly influence the communication style, so you should adopt it. It is important to respect higher-ranking individuals, elders and anyone else in a position of authority. Just to give you one typical example: during a dinner, respected individuals should be seated at the head of the table, and they are served first.