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It appears that building strong relationships or guān xì (关系) is very important in Chinese society. Would readers be able to share some scenarios or phrases that would help build such 关系?

Similar relationships exist for English speakers and take time to build. Some of the most important ideas one needs to express include:

  1. Trust (信任, 凭信, etc.)
  2. Confidence (信心, et. al.)
  3. Reliability (可靠, etc.)
  4. Dependability (可靠, etc.)
  5. Hard-working (勤奋, etc.)
  6. Honesty (诚实, etc.)

What are some Chinese phrases, fragments, or words that a student would need in order to begin building a network of guān xì (关系) ?

For example, one general sentence I have found is:

  • néng qǐng nǐ bāng gè máng mǎ
  • 能请你帮个忙吗?
  • Could you do me a favor?


Kwintessential, Ltd. (n.d.). Guanxi: The Chinese Cultural Concept. Retrieved June 2, 2014 from,

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closed as off-topic by Alenanno Jun 15 '14 at 9:16

  • This question does not appear to be about Chinese language within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I see nothing wrong with this question. If there is, as a courtesy, please post a comment explaining the down vote. Is this a taboo subject or can any academic question be asked here? – Tommie C. Jun 3 '14 at 14:10
I didn't down vote you, but I think this is a complicated problem. Very difficult to answer. – Stan Jun 3 '14 at 16:27
I don't think people take too kindly to Cultural questions here - as it's supposed to be a "language" Q&A site. I, myself, find the two to be inseparable. – user3306356 Jun 4 '14 at 4:08
@user3306356 Culture and Language do seem to be tightly bound. One site notes "Culture is transmitted through language ... from one generation to another." So language acts as a medium to transmit a cultural idea. This is why I ask for examples in Chinese so that the true context is not lost. Some things may not translate well and hopefully I haven't offended folks with the topic. – Tommie C. Jun 4 '14 at 11:25
I didn't downvote, but I think the current downvotes are because this question it is not about the Chinese Language. You're right, language and culture are intertwined, but asking users on how to make a network for people to connect is not a language question, I'm sure you can see that. Questions that touch on culture are OK, but the core question should be on the language itself. Your question is not bad, it's just not appropriate for the site, hope you understand. :) You're free to ask the same question on chat. – Alenanno Jun 15 '14 at 9:16
up vote 2 down vote accepted

关系 has very little to do with language because it works more on a 礼尚往来-system, much like everything in China does.

If you want to "earn" some 关系 you must make people feel like they owe you.

The 礼 in 礼尚往来 originally stood for 礼节 - looking at it you might even think of 礼貌 or 礼仪 but most people today take this as 礼物.

If you want to earn 关系 then you really need to take the initiative and give some gifts, presents or even money.

If you want to keep 关系 you better make sure you "reciprocate" on every possible occasion, especially: birthdays, births, funerals, weddings, promotions, house warnings. Reciprocation means that whatever you were given before you better give something with greater or (in the absolute least) equal value (but something of equal value will probably be looked upon as somewhat disrespectful and perhaps as an indicator that you're not willing to 'sustain' this 关系 relationship).

(On a side note: this explains China's problem with corruption - too many people owe people favors...)

If someone invites you to dinner - you better invite them back, if someone gives you a "gift" you better give one back (at the appropriate time, of course) - unless you don't care about "keeping up" the relationship.

If you recieve some stuff you can say something like: 破费了!

When you give stuff you can say something like: 一点心意

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Thanks for the examples you've provided as they will help me build a vocabulary surrounding this topic. If anything else comes to mind please feel free to edit the answer with more samples. – Tommie C. Jun 4 '14 at 10:52

Invite him a dinner and let him introduce you some Chinese food, the 关系 of you will be better

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I really appreciate your input and your effort to answer. Could you provide some language phrases that I might use to setup the invitation? As a student I want to avoid stumbling if possible, which is why I have asked for Chinese samples. – Tommie C. Jun 4 '14 at 10:49
like a.. I come from /your/ and I've heard Chinese food is fantastic. If you want to introduce me your favorite or your home cooking. I could enjoy myself. By the way, In a college, invite a teacher to dinner is not common. the teacher may thought you want to change your mark or something(only some teacher, not all) Oh it's too much invisible rules in China, and I admire you can be frank, so do whatever you want. anyone will move by your kindness. – ztana Jun 6 '14 at 8:05

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