GIFT GIVING IN TAIWAN*
BUSINESS GIFT GIVING /
PERSONAL GIFT GIVING
business gifts is popular in Taiwanese business culture. Be sure to take
an assortment of gifts, so that you can have at least one for any
occasion. This strategy will be particularly useful if you are
unexpectedly presented with a gift.
- You may be
presented with a gift during a first meeting. Ensure that you have gifts
on hand so that you can reciprocate.
- Good gifts
for a first trip include items featuring your company logo. Do not give a
gift, however, that has been manufactured in Taiwan.
- It is
Chinese custom to decline a gift three times before accepting; this ritual
prevents the recipient from appearing too acquisitive. In the face of
these protestations, continue to insist. Once your gift is finally
accepted, say that you are pleased. When you receive a gift, you will be
expected to go through the same routine.
- A gift
should be received in both hands, palms facing upwards.
- Gifts are
not opened in front of the giver. Opening presents alone allows both the
giver and recipient to 'save face.' There is a cultural belief that the
giver and recipient may be embarrassed if the gift turns out to be a poor
- It is
customary to reciprocate a gift with one of similar value. Therefore,
choose a gift that takes into account the recipient's financial resources.
Taiwanese tend to give very generous presents and Western visitors should
be prepared to reciprocate with gifts of the same value.
- Gifts of
food are appreciated by the Chinese, but avoid bringing food gifts with
you to a dinner party--unless it has been agreed upon beforehand. To bring
food suggests that your host's hospitality is inadequate. Instead, send
food as a thank-you gift afterwards: candy or fruit baskets are safe
- Give an
even number of flowers. An odd number of flowers will only be perceived as
an omen of bad luck.
- At Chinese
New Year, it is customary to give a gift of money in a red envelope to
children and to the service personnel who frequently assist you. This gift
is called 'hong bao'--a government-mandated type of gift-giving that may
be of importance to you if you are considered an employer in the country.
Give only new bills in even numbers and even amounts. Many employers give
each employee a 'hong bao' equal to one month's salary.
- Gifts and
wrappings in red, pink, and yellow are happy, prosperous colours.
using black or white gift wrap.
- Be careful
about the number of presents you give someone. The Taiwanese place great
emphasis on numbers and their meanings. The following points highlight the
meanings ascribed to certain numbers.
Numbers and their Symbolic Meaning
- 4: 'Si'
sounds like the Chinese word for 'death.' Doing activities in fours or
mentioning the number should be avoided.
- 6: 'Liu'
(lee-oh) signifies the six Chinese elements, which include the wind,
river, lightning, mountain, sun, and moon. This term is believed to have a
lucky meaning, so it's perfectly acceptable to give items in multiples of
- 8: 'Ba'
sounds like 'prosperity' in Chinese, so it is a lucky number.
- 13: Just
as in the West, this number is considered unlucky.
featuring your company logo
- gold pens
related to baseball
Gifts to Avoid
- a gift
made in Taiwan
scissors or cutting tools--they suggest the severing of a friendship or
similar close bond.
Gifts Associated with Funerals (Avoid!)
- gift wrap
in white, black or blue
*Taiwan Business Etiquette - Gift Giving.
Executive Planet. 16 Aug. 2004
Above: The flag of Taiwan
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An Atlas or Coffee Table Book