Kevin Barry Bucknall.

Review by

Rebecca Stow

April, 2002

Rating: 4 stars
Comment: Highly Recommended

A book titled Chinese Business Etiquette and Culture may seem daunting at first, even boring, but author Kevin Barry Bucknall manages to make the text not only essential but interesting as well. That's not to say that it resembles reading the comics. It is, after all, a type of textbook that contains a lot of information acting to inform general. At times, this book borders on stereotyping, such as "The bossy, interfering, middle-aged woman." Although the author does acknowledge this in a preface. Bucknall's writing has an endearing quality, reminiscent of The Accidental Tourist making his way through China as best as possible.

China is a fascinating country, and one, as Bucknall explains, that is shrouded in mystery, "a secretive society." He offers advice, some that is common sense and some that is not. For example, he says to avoid the phrase "I hope you are well," and not to ask if it is going to rain.

Much of his advice may seem trivial to non-Chinese, but they can be major blunders when doing business in China, such as not understanding that laughter serves as a defense mechanism or that spitting is common. He covers behavior, the business process, meetings, negotiating, and living and working in China. Abbreviations and charts are also provided to break down their customs and culture as well as an appendix to explain China's history, politics and economics.

While the book isn't for everyone, those who want to do business in China may find they cannot succeed without it. The information does get a little repetitive, with 218 pages it is easy to see why, but the pay off should be worth it.[]

Reviewed by Rebecca Stow, a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and copy editor with BA in English from the UC Santa Barbara, a teaching credential from Chapman University, and a certification of journalism from UCLA in the works. She can be reached at She is a reviewing editor of