Moving from France to China? Get the local culture!

China is a country with an immense wealth of culture, tradition and history – this is exactly that kind of diversity that makes it so attractive for expatriates from France, and certainly also from other parts of the world.
So you are relocating from France to China – this will present a unique opportunity in your life, but be prepared to adapt to its lifestyle. It is crucial to understand and follow the local cultural customs.

Hierarchy and respect for the elderly
In China, your status, or hierarchical level within an organisation will have a deep impact on the communication style, so you better adopt it. It is important to respect higher-ranking individuals, elders and anyone else in a position of authority. For example, during a dinner, respected individuals should be seated at the head of the table, and they are served first.

How Chinese people recognize achievements
Usually compliments are accepted in a different way in China. The locals 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?”. Expatriates in particular from France and other western countries should generally assert humility in interactions and be aware about boasting about achievements.

The Chinese day-to-day life
In China it is indispensable 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.
China has a deep smoking culture and cigarettes are permitted in many public places and restaurants, unlike it is the case in France.
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 western 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.

Communication is different in China
The communication style in China differs from typical methods in western regions. It clearly has a tendency to be less direct. Strong emphasis is placed on tact and etiquette. Candid interaction can be viewed as offensive. Instead, subtlety and politeness are appreciated. It is not common to explicitly disagree with opinions. Calm, controlled conduct and respectful diplomacy are usual features in Chinese culture. And rarely will an individual display anger.