A very important facet of Chinese culture is the concept of face, mianzi. Face is a very important factor in the life of a Chinese person. Because of face, Chinese generally do not directly refuse or deny someone, especially in front of others. For example, you may not like the food a host serves you, but you should not refuse it directly to save face for the host. As a foreigner, you may be requested to pose with many Chinese tourists for a picture because some Chinese like to show the photo back home to increase “face”. Chinese often compete for face. If a city has the highest building in the world that will make its citizens feel highly “faced”. As a foreign guest, you do not have to be highly concerned with “saving face”, but it important for you to be aware of this pervasive concept.

Learning Tools > Culture 101 > “Face”