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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 16:02, March 31, 2005
Foreigners in Shanghai show zeal for Chinese etiquette
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In order to teach Chinese etiquette and custom to Italians living in Shanghai a free lecture on culture was launched jointly by Italy-China Exchange Association (Italy) and Shanghai Meihe Chinese Language School on March 26.

The subject of the lecture was "things one should know about giving gifts in China". According to Wu Huijing with the Italy-China Exchange Association the lecture was aimed at senior officials of the Association's member companies. They would later launch lectures on "how to bargain in China" and "finding yourself a Chinese name" etc. The objective is to help foreigners understand the life in Shanghai through these cultural courses.

Statistics offered by the Italy-China Exchange Association show that there are now more than 400 Italians living in Shanghai and they are only a small part of foreigners in Shanghai. As international exchange runs deep they have growing demand for knowledge about Chinese etiquette and custom. This is because they have found that without knowledge about Chinese etiquette and custom they would often feel at a loss in situations sometimes embarrassing for them. For example, "should I send a gift to business partner?", "when is it appropriate to propose a toast at the table?" and "is it ok to bargain when shopping?" and so on. They have a deep feeling that to blend in the local life it is not only necessary to learn Chinese but also to understand Chinese conventions of life.

Ma Fulan, who has come to Shanghai for three months, said: "I love this city and I want to become part of it." But she feels it extremely difficult to make a local friend. Ma Fulan loves physical exercises and drinking coffee while her Chinese associates obviously enjoys Karaoke and dining more. Differences in life style and ways of spending leisure time often make this Italian girl feel lonely despite the fact that she can speak Chinese.

There are many foreigners like Ma Fulan in Shanghai, who want to blend in the local life. However, questions like what kind of gifts are appropriate for occasions like the wedding of a friend and a colleague giving birth to a child often make them feel confused.

Gu Yihua, an Italian who has been in Shanghai for just two months, feels very much accustomed to life in Shanghai. Even this Italian businessman who believes himself to be an international person encounters some problems such as whether or not to send a gift to a female business partner, how to avoid making Chinese friends embarrassed with his gifts and how to negotiate business with Chinese etc. He said: "Chinese have many table manners and rules when drinking. Before this lecture I could only try to find out by myself when to propose a toast or ask a friend. Now this lecture is available and I find it very attractive."

As learned the Italy-China Exchange Association has had more than 650 members. They want to blend into the local life in Shanghai very much while cultural communication and understanding are objectives they want to attain the most.

By People's Daily Online

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