AQF Quality Control Blog

Purchase Process

Asians vs. Westerners (in images)

While it is not the first time we publish an article based on the cultural differences between Asians and Westerners (see: Making Sense of China), this time we’ll try to be a little more graphic. We hope these examples help importers and people who are often associated with Chinese to better understand some of the quirks that differentiate the West from Asia.
Consider the problems that can be found during a normal day:

1. Time

We started the day and go to the factory to talk to our vendor at the agreed time, and … No one is there. Why?

While Westerners arrive exactly at the agreed time, Easterners may arrive 15 minutes before or 15 minutes after the agreement time, and without saying “sorry, I’m late” because for them this is normal.

Blue: Western; Red: Eastern

2. Way of thinking

While the Western mind is very linear, the Asian mind works differently.

3. Face expression

You insist on the subject of being late and the factory manager smiles? It is a misconception that you think he understands and shares your opinion, but rather may be the opposite.

Avoid bad comments and bad ways to act, as one of the mistakes to avoid in China is to let another person lose face. They will always smile, but this does not indicate they are satisfied with what is spoken. (For more information on this topic, please read the following article: Chinese suppliers: don’t make them lose face!)

4. Make a queue

It is time to eat, and you go to the factory restaurant. You ask the question: Where is the line? The answer is: there is no line, this word does not exist in China.

This example is very obvious when you go to a train stop in HK or China. While in HK usually you can find almost a perfect line, in China they do not have this attitude.

5. In the Restaurant

During lunch with the factory manager, you may think: “now it is a good time to talk about business, and with a little bit of wine, I could get a 20% reduction in the price.” The wine may be effective, but it will be impossible to have a conversation with him. While in the restaurant Western people speak in a polite and soft voice, Easterners will often talk loudly as if they owned the restaurant.

This is not at all a lack of education. Simply, the noise in a Chinese restaurant indicates quite the opposite than in a western restaurant. More noise inside = better restaurant!

6. Facing problems

Afternoon comes and it’s time to face the problems and discrepancies of the negotiation. You go straight to the point, but the factory manager seems to “turn a deaf ear” and try to find other less “direct” ways to discuss. This is completely normal in China, as they try to avoid conflict.

This does not mean he does not understand the problem. In fact, it is almost certain he understands the situation. What happens is that the way they act dealing with a problem is different.

7. The Boss

Finally, remember: in China the boss or manager of the factory is not part of the team, he is considered as “God”!

You can find more comparisons here:


AQF Team

We are a multicultural team of experts working together to secure import from Asia. Quality Control Blog allows us to share our expertise with the people in the industry, it is an exciting project! Meet the AQF team. PS: We are are always searching for new talented colleagues, feel free to contact us! ;)

Leave a comment

One response to “Asians vs. Westerners (in images)”

  1. […] problems: Understanding Westerns vs. Asians way of doing things is very important. While our local inspectors will follow their culture and […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *