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Enhance your skills in Chinese culture with free short course

China is a huge country with diverse cultures. Having an insight into its unique customs can be hugely beneficial for business and social interaction. With The Open University running a free pilot course until the end of January 2019 on Chinese Cultural Competency: engaging in successful business, it’s a great opportunity to grow your understanding.

Business with China is on the increase, as the country steps up to be the largest economy in the world by 2020. It’s likely that the UK’s trade with China will increase accordingly, making the skills learnt in the OU’s free course critical to good communication. Dr Qian Kan, Head of Chinese at The Open University explores some important cultural values that impact on human behaviour and interaction in China.


Is defined as the relationships or connections individuals cultivate with their counterparts. In China, business relations are socially embedded, with friendship at the forefront of any trade deal. In China, friendship leads to business whereas in the West, friendship is often formed from business.


Means to ‘keep face’ and is the act of avoiding embarrassment when a mistake is made. By making an individual lose face, risks the injured party not wanting to do business in the future. Typical actions that would offend a Chinese business person could include, pointing out mistakes; disagreeing with a senior in a meeting; over-use of humour; and pushing for a decision too soon.

Dining out

Pre and post negotiation meals are common and are often seen as more valuable than formal meetings, as it allows for personal trust to be built and ‘guanxi’ to be formed.

Speaking the lingo

Speaking a little Chinese can go a long way and is a sign of respect, as it shows that you have taken an interest and time to understand Chinese culture. It can also be an ice-breaker, which will make working experiences more enjoyable as common ground can be established.

Chinese Cultural Competency: engaging in successful business is a three-week short course that aims to introduce core Chinese cultural beliefs, highlighting potential challenges and sharing stories and reflections from Westerners who have lived and worked in China. By focusing on key aspects of Chinese culture and introducing some important useful language expressions, the course will equip you to manage intercultural encounters successfully and make a long standing and positive impression.

Find out more:

About Chinese Cultural Competency: engaging in successful business and other courses available in Chinese at The Open University


About Author

Hannah is part of the Media Relations Team at The Open University, working with the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. With experience both agency and in-house, Hannah has worked on campaigns for a number of large corporate companies and brands, including RBS, NatWest, Travelodge, Audible, AA and the Royal Academy of Dance. She has completed a Masters in Publishing Studies from Oxford Brookes and is currently studying towards a DipHE in Computer, IT and Design. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading and going to the theatre.

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