London, August 9 (ANI): When Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy visited Beijing in March this year, he was advised to say “yes, but it will be difficult” as an alternative to saying “no”, in a bid to avoid a faux pas.
The suggestion to Murphy was part of a guide to Chinese etiquette, which has been published by the Scotland Office under Freedom of Information legislation.
It suggested that using the word “no” could cause “embarrassment and loss of face”.
The Scottish Secretary was also warned against offering a welcoming dram, arriving late for functions, and suggesting that China was a backward country.
“They are very sensitive to suggestions that they are ‘backward’. It helps to praise areas of China that are modern, built up and conspicuously wealthy – enthusiasm for poorer, more traditional or rural areas will cause bafflement and sometimes even offence,” the Scotsman quoted the document as stating.
Murphy was also advised to bring gifts for his hosts in lucky colours, such as gold and red, and not to write on their business cards, as that caused offence.
When hosting his own events, the Scottish Secretary was warned of the pitfalls that could arise from the Chinese habit of downing their drinks to toast the company.
“Frequent toasts, finishing the whole glass to good health, Sino-British friendship and so on are standard. Many Chinese have a low capacity for beer or non-rice wine. If you host a meal, then soft drinks should be available,” said the guide.
“Do not leave your chopsticks pointing into a bowl, as this resembles images Chinese associate with death. Place them horizontally on the rest provided,” it added. (ANI)