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To most expats living in Shanghai, Chinese culture is a world apart from what we are used to. However, one should always remember that our cultures are as foreign and alien to Chinese people as theirs is to ours.

Sometimes it's useful to try to see things from their point of view: this article lists 10 cultural misconceptions, but from the Chinese point of view. It also explains why some misconceptions occur, and how generally speaking, neither party is at fault from the misunderstanding.

Many westerners come to China and think they are being treated badly simply because they are foreigners or because all Chinese people are rude; but the vast majority of the time, it's simply cultural differences at play.

The best way to get used to the many differences that separate Chinese culture from the rest of the world is simply to live here - it's surprising how quickly you become acclimatised to these kinds of things when you're around them all day, every day.

Health and hygiene

Main article: Health and hygiene

While many elements of health and hygiene may seem basic (or occasionally even backwards) in Shanghai compared with many cities of similar size in other countries, it should always be remembered that China is a developing country. Learn more about your options by reading up on your health and hygiene options in Shanghai.

Haggling

Main article: Haggling

In China if there are no clearly marked prices on items (and sometimes even when there are), you'll have to bargain for it. Either get used to haggling, or get used to being ripped off. Luckily, we've made a haggling guide to help get you started.

Tipping

Main article: Tipping

As the saying goes, "Tipping is not a city in China". Offering gratuities to workers in the service industry is generally optional. Find out when tipping in China is appropriate, and when offering extra payment can even cause you to lose face.

Manners and etiquette

Main article: Manners and etiquette

Chinese manners and etiquette in many situations vary greatly from their western counterparts - not only in general behaviour but also in established social situations like queueing or giving gifts. The main article gives a good overview of what to expect.

Gifts

Main article: Gifts

When giving and receiving gifts in China, there is a whole etiquette involved. Some gifts you shouldn't give at all, and some gifts or kinds of gifts are only acceptable in certain circumstances. Find out in the main article what to give as presents and what to avoid.

TIC (This Is China)

Main article: TIC

Sometimes the cultural differences between China and the west can be great - haggling, for example, generally means that you can negotiate a better price on the item you want to buy, and the relative lack of tipping in China means that you'll save plenty of money in restaurants and taxis. However, haggling is repetitive and tiring after the sheen wears off, and the lack of tipping also means that people in the service industries are less inclined to go the extra mile to ensure your happiness. Like most things, these differences can be a double-edged sword. China is a developing country, and like any country it has its own set of issues. Always remember: TIC.

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