Is it Rude to Clap in China?

Proper social etiquette and what is considered to be basically “decent” behavior widely vary amongst the far-flung nations of the world.

But, just how different cultures can be, from your own, may be somewhat alarming if you are so unfortunate to have to learn these differences in person.

For example, clapping in China. Is it rude, and if it is, why?

Read on below and discover the answer and reasoning to this curious question!

Is it Rude to Clap in China?

Clapping in China is not viewed the same way as it is seen in Western nations. 

That is not to say that clapping is rude in general, but that clapping at the wrong time is more or less the real offense.

But, that’s not quite all there is to the story, however.

You see, clapping in the street is just as frowned upon in China as it is during a speech or performance.

In China, the only time clapping isn’t rude is when it is unquestionably the right time to do so.

To be on the safe side, while visiting China, refrain from clapping until you see locals clapping.

How Rude Is it?


On the rude meter’s scale of 1 to 10, clapping in China rates 7

There is a time and place for everything, including clapping in China. However, spending time out in the general public (whether alone or in the company of others) is not the right place or time to clap in China.

Clapping in the audience, in between performances, or between the sentences of a speech is an absolute no-no as well. 

More or less, clapping in China is most often seen as a rude and intrusive form of behavior rather than how it is seen as a sign of appreciation or approval (in the West).

That said, there are proper times to clap, even in China, of course. For example, at the end of a performance, presentation, or speech.

Why is it Rude?

In China, clapping out in the street for some trivial reason isn’t going to earn you a death sentence, or get you banned from the country, but you will no doubt be met with a lot of stiff locals with unsmiling faces. 

That’s because, in China, clapping is considered rude when it is done out of unison. 

In other words, if everyone else is clapping, it’s ok for you to clap as well. 

But, clap out of turn, and the locals are bound to find your behavior rude and uncalled for.

Common Questions

Is being loud in public always rude in China?

For the most part, China is not a country that enjoys loud meaningless noise. 

The world makes enough noise without people adding to it by running around and clapping and shouting. 

Being needlessly loud in public is rude in China.

Is smiling in public rude in China?

Proper Chinese greetings with strangers do not include smiling, therefor smiling in public is often seen as rude (but mainly when it is directed at strangers). 

In other words, if you are smiling at people you have already met, you’re fine… otherwise, you should keep your smiles to yourself while visiting this Asian powerhouse.

What is rude behavior in China?

In China, the rules of acceptable social behavior are a lot different than in Western lands such as Europe and the USA.

For example, smiling when you meet people, clapping at odd times, partaking in loud banter at the pub (or in the street), and pointing with your finger are all equally rude and unacceptable behavior.