As in many places in Asia, business entertaining is an important and integral part of the commercial cycle.

With relationship building high on the agenda in Hong Kong, it is vital to take every opportunity to wine and dine with colleagues or clients. The person who makes the invitation will be expected to pay for the meal — even if people protest and offer to pick up the bill (this is merely play-acting and nobody would expect you to accept their offer.)

During the meal, the conversation will be very wide-ranging and may take in such topics as food, the weather, sport, money, family, education and even general business topics (rather than the specifics of a deal.) It is probably best to avoid such topics as politics, human rights etc.

Both lunch and dinner can be very significant meals with many courses and dishes being presented. It is probably best to try a little of everything, rather than trying to eat too much from the early courses. It is considered impolite to finish everything on the table as this implies that your hosts have not provided enough food.

The chopsticks you are given at the start of the meal are expected to last throughout the meal. When not using them, rest them on the chopstick rest by your place setting or on the table — never leave then sticking in the rice.

Eating can be a relatively noisy affair as belching and slurping are seen as signs of appreciation for the quality of the meal on offer.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Hong Kong

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Hong Kong. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Hong Kong and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips