The Business of Respect

Anyone hoping to do business in Hong Kong would be well advised to read up on business etiquette. Even in the simple act of exchanging business cards there are customs to observe such as handing over and receiving cards with two hands and placing acquired cards in sight during the meeting, rather than putting them away. In addition to the etiquette individuals follow, there are also some interesting customs that businesses themselves adhere to such as those surrounding a grand opening, and the practice of running congratulatory advertisements.

 

A Grand Opening

There are two things that make the grand opening of a Hong Kong business truly worthy of the title, large and elaborate floral arrangements and the lion dance.

Floral Arrangement – Image courtesy of Kaifung3wangfai @ Wikimedia Commons

It is customary for current and potential business partners to send a large freestanding floral arrangement to a new business as a way of showing respect and expressing congratulations. The arrangement also features a large sign with the name of the sender and recipient and are generally placed outside the new business for maximum effect.

Eat your greens! – Image courtesy ofchooyutshing @ Flickr

As part of the grand opening party, a lion may visit the new business to perform the traditional custom of ‘cai ching’ (plucking the greens). The lion dances in, eats and then spits out green vegetables called choi in Chinese (e.g. pak choi, bok choi) which sounds like the Chinese word for fortune. The lion dance is accompanied by incredibly loud drums, cymbals and gongs. This noise and the formidable face of the lion are believed to chase away evil spirits and the lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the new business.

 

Congrads 

Another way that businesses show respect to each other is by placing advertisements congratulating business partners on achievements (e.g. listing on the stock exchange) or anniversaries.

Advertisements congratulating businesses on achievements or anniversaries

Advertisements are also run on national days, such as these advertisements run on the 16th Anniversary of the Hong Kong SAR. These are not unique to Hong Kong, many an Australian business runs an advertisement wishing all a Happy Australia Day, but I can’t recall ever seeing an Australian ad that was quite as formal as the Hong Kong counterparts. 

Advertisements for the 16th Anniversary of the HKSAR

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