Culture Insights – China
Faye Zhang – AWAY NZ Chinese Consultant Services
Understanding Chinese visitors social behaviour
Room booking in China vs. New Zealand
Chinese visitors eating and drinking habits
Assisting Chinese visitors with responsible wildlife viewing
How to communicate rules and instructions
Understanding Cultural differences between China and New Zealand
I grew up in China, so the Asian culture made me hard working. Diligent and always thinking about – I love a challenge. Just always trying to improve myself.
Main cultural differences between China and New Zealand:
I work in Beijing before I work in New Zealand. As you can image it’s a city with about 20 million people in the city. So you better be quick for everything. You have to be rush, rush, rush. Here it is everybody is pretty laid back. That’s the number 1 culture difference for me. People enjoy their lives.
Another thing for me, second will be ‘holiday’. The word you called ‘holiday’, in China you don’t get that. We just have to work hard. Really working, working, save-up. So, New Zealand everybody is talking about, Oh where I am going to go for holiday. I know people living here enjoy their lives.
Another culture difference would be people really friendly. In China you don’t get that. Just stranger walking past each other, people say hi and greeting. But Kiwi do greet each other, which is really good.
Differences in social behaviour:
Sometimes a local New Zealander will think Chinese visitors can be really rude. Because they are pushing, rushing along for things. Sometimes they don’t even queueing. I totally understand that is a big ‘no, no’ in western culture. You know maybe they will think those people are not civilised. But the thing is, if you ever travel to China you will understand. 20 million people in Beijing, let’s say my city Beijing.
Gosh if you don’t rush around, no one will care about you. You just got to be quick.
In restaurant, in China you order a meal, you better shout at the waitress. Do that. So you are shouting always with your hands-up, waving for them. They draw their attention, then you got the food. Otherwise no one will give you a polite eye contact, or know that you are ready to order. No, you don’t get that in China.
You’d better – hey waitress I am ready.
So that’s China. I hope Kiwi can understand that. We are all human beings, you know we just naturally do things and grow-up with things we are used to.
Room bookings in China
If you work in the hospitality industry, you have to realise that how Chinese people book rooms in China.
For example, as a Chinese visitor I book a room in China mainland. The room will be sold each by room rather than per head. So let’s say a double room, no matter how many people you can squeeze into the room, 3 or 4 people you can do that. Feel free to do that, if you guys are comfortable staying in a double bed. So they will only charge by a double room.
So Chinese people, when they book a room, they will automatically think in New Zealand they must be selling the room. You know rather than, sell by per room rather than per head. Sometimes they will 3 or 4 people into a double room. That doesn’t mean they are not honest. It’s just they don’t know. So how our hotel manager to let them know the culture difference in hospitality – that will be the key.
Understanding about food and drink:
If you work in a restaurant, I would suggest local New Zealander offer them Chinese chopsticks. And offer hot water please. Because in China, if you ever travel to China, in a restaurant if you ask for water. 100% hot water will be served. And hot warm milk as well.
They don’t drink cold stuff. Because Chinese people believe that cold drinks makes your body, just cold air trapped in your body is not good for your stomach. Especially senior people and younger wee baby. They will never ever drink cold water.
Chinese people love to eat rice. So we should provide a rice cooker for them in your kitchen if you care about the Chinese market. If you want to have the positive feedback from your Chinese visitors.
I’ve seen some Chinese visitors. I know this is strange – Chinese visitors use the jug to boil some porridge because they can’t find a rice cooker. I am sorry. Just stop them being creative. Provide the rice cooker for them please. Otherwise they will use anything they could to boil some rice.
Let’s just save the trouble, give them a rice cooker. They are like 10 or 15 dollars from the Kmart. I know that.
Have you helped tourism operators in your area?
So in the last 3 years, I’ve made Dunedin Chinese maps myself. It has been really popular. You see everything here [picture of the map on screen], apart from the street names which is in English. Everything else is in Mandarin. So people have a straight idea about what Dunedin has when they check-in into the hotel. And everything being translated. They can find the supermarket. Also, on my map I provided the real picture of everything.
Assisting the Chinese visitors with responsible wildlife viewing:
Dunedin has the wildlife code, I’ve put the QR code attached it on to my Chinese map. Because I really want to help get the message out to the Chinese visitors. It is very important for everybody, no matter where you come from to look after the wildlife.
I have to say that the Chinese people, they didn’t do very well compared to the local Kiwis. To have the clear awareness of respecting the wildlife because in China you can’t see the wildlife. All the animals you can see in China, they are from the zoo. You are allowed to feed them. You are allowed to pet them.
That animal, Chinese people say, so they automatically think Oh there is an animal, I want to pet it. How cute it is. So we should tell the visitors, say clear distance such as 10 or 20 meters away from the sea lions or seals. You can take pictures, but not with them, very close distance. Best way to communicate rules and instructions
Communication is the key – so how could the local Kiwis tell them the rules, what are the rules. And what you want to say into Mandarin is important. Tell them in advance before, you know they check-in. Tell them straight away when you meet them. Then they will follow the rules. They love to follow the rules. Chinese people hate to break the rules.
They don’t want to make themselves look bad. Otherwise we call it losing face in China. Losing face just means Oh I bought into trouble, I bring trouble for other people. This is no good in Chinese culture.