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Giving the Chinese green hats among cultural taboos - Dothan Eagle: News

Giving the Chinese green hats among cultural taboos

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Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 5:12 pm | Updated: 9:31 am, Thu Mar 27, 2014.

With more than 100 Chinese businessmen expected to be in Dothan the next few days, there are a few things local residents should keep in mind when interacting with the Chinese visitors.

Iris Hong Xu, an associate professor of Chinese Language and Culture at Troy University, recently outlined a few subjects to avoid during conversations with any of the visiting Chinese businessmen.

The symposium start s Wednes day with a reception in the evening at the Wiregrass Museum of Art.

The main part of the symposium will run from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Friday with an International Foster Fest downtown set for Thursday evening and a closing gala at the home of local attorney Keith Givens on Friday evening.

Hong Xu, who is also the director of the Confucius Institute at Troy University, suggested people avoid the following subjects in conversation :

-Avoid giving a green hat to Chinese guests because a green hat implies that a man’s wife has been unfaithful. Hong Xu also explained in an email green is significant because a turtle is green and turtles hide their heads in their shells. She said calling someone a “ turtle ” will get you in trouble because it’s like calling them a coward.

-Avoid giving them a clock because clocks symbolize time is running out. The end of relationships and life are the messages that are sent when a clock is given as a gift.

-Avoid giving Chinese guests handkerchiefs because in Chinese it means a farewell greeting. The gift of a handkerchief is especially inappropriate for a boyfriend or girlfriend unless you want to break up.

- Avoid giving them towels, since they are usually given out at funerals, and they bring back sad memories of funerals and death.

- Avoid giving them an umbrella because it means you want to end your friendship with them. If it’s raining, and you’re worried they will get wet, it’s better for both of you to “huddle” under your umbrella until you reach your destination.

-Avoid using anything in white or black because those colors are often used during funerals so presents, wrapping paper and envelopes in these colors should be avoided.

-Avoid giving them shoes because the phrase in Chinese ‘ give a shoe ’ also means to break up. Hong Xu also said giving two shoes sends the message that you want the person to go his or her separate way, ending the friendship.

- Avoid mentioning Taiwan. If the subject comes up, never refer to this country as “The Republic of China” or “Nationalist China.” The correct term is “Taiwan Province,” or just “Taiwan.”

- Refrain from using terms such as “Red China”, “Mainland China,” and “Communist China.”

- Avoid any discussion around communism and the government.

- Avoid discussing anything that would cause the Chinese to feel inferior in any way.

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