photo of business card
Bring your business cards to China!

Is Mandarin Ability Necessary to do Business in China?

Last week’s post was about Mandarin Chinese for travel, this week’s topic is Mandarin for business. Just as knowing some of the language can enrich a trip to China or Taiwan, it can also help business interactions. There is nothing wrong with relying on a trusted translator to get around a business transaction in China. Knowing some of the language, however, can help deepen relationships between non-Chinese who wish to do business in China and their local counterparts. A little bit of language ability often goes a long way in China. Just be sure to get too far out of your depth!

Key Words to Know

你好 ni3hao3 (hello) is a phrase that will take you very far in China, especially if you pronounce it correctly. There are actually very few visitors to China that can pronounce 你好 with the correct tones. Locals really do notice when a foreign visitor gets them right. Often students of Chinese learn the phrase 认识呢很高兴 (nice to meet you), but in practice, most native speakers just say 你好 when they meet a new person.

名片 ming2pian4 (business card). In some ways China is much more high-tech than the US. People pay for the lunch, rent a bike, and pay their bills with their phones. They scan QR codes to do almost anything. For business however, the paper business card is still king. It is certainly helpful to know what someone is talking about when they ask for your “名片.”

Numbers. Anyone who travels to China or Taiwan for work will want to take some time off to go shopping. Knowing how to say the numbers in Mandarin Chinese will make this experience infinitely more pleasant and enjoyable. As a bonus, knowing the numbers will come in handy if you decide to take up a more serious study of the language.

If you are interested in learning Mandarin Chinese to prepare for a business trip to China, please use the contact page to get in touch.


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