China: Values                                                                 


Can you guess what each term below means? What values do they correspond to?

  1. Keqi
  2. Guanxi (pronounced “gwan-she”)
  3. Mian-zi
  4. Harmony
  5. Group-orientation

The most populous country in the world, The People's Republic of China is known as a country of etiquette and ceremonies. The unique character of the Chinese is built on a strong sense of pride in their ancient history and culture.


Keqi (humility and modesty) 

The notion of keqi is based on the combination of two Chinese words, 'ke' meaning 'guest' and 'qi' signifying 'behavior'. Together, this cultural concept advocates thoughtful, courteous, polite, and refined behavior. It is important to demonstrate humility and modesty as exaggerated claims of ability are viewed with suspicion and are likely to be looked into.

Guanxi (relationship) 

In literal terms, this central concept in Chinese culture means 'relationships' or 'connections'. Guanxi is a network of elaborate relationships promoting trust and co-operation and for centuries was the main way of accomplishing everyday tasks. Establishing a sincere, supportive relationship based on mutual respect is a fundamental aspect of Chinese culture.

Mianzi (face)

An important issue that should be considered when interacting with the Chinese is the concept of 'mian-zi' or 'face'. Face is a mark of personal pride and forms the basis of an individual's reputation and social status. In the Chinese culture 'saving face', 'losing face' and 'giving face' are vital for successful business. Causing someone to loose face through public humiliation or inappropriate allocation of respect to individuals within the organization can seriously damage relationships. On the other hand, praising someone in moderation is a form of 'giving face' and can earn respect, loyalty and aid negotiations. In schools, it is rare for a student to brag about obtaining the highest grade in the class!


Confucianism is a code for moral and ethical behavior and a code to follow in order to maintain harmony in relationships. It is recognized ethical belief system of Confucianism is based on the teachings and writings of the 6th century BC philosopher Confucius. Emphasis is placed on the concept of relationships and the elements of responsibility and obligation. This Chinese philosophy remains a vital cultural factor in the development of Chinese society and is still effective in Chinese business culture today in the preservation of surface harmony and collective good.