Mission Possible: Chinese for Europeans

A project within the frames of the Lifelong learning program - K2 Languages

Imagine a world where China is the largest trade partner of the European Union.
Imagine a world where your studies or business are related to China.
Imagine a world where understanding Chinese facilitates your business.

Stop imagining! Start learning!

Chinese for Europeans - We'll turn your imagination into reality!
Work Meeting on Exploitation Strategy, 11-12 July 2011, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
During the meeting the partners discussed the main points for exploitation of the project results, including the development of a plan for potential commercialisation of the project products. The partners discussed that the commercialisation plan should be directed towards the 2 main project products - practical workshops and conversational sets. It was decided the exploitation plan to be updated after each event and finalised by the end of October 2011.
Work Meeting on Practical Workshops, 14-15 April 2011, Lisbon, Portugal
The partners held a meeting on the organisation of the practical workshops in Lisbon, Portugal, on 14-15 April 2011. They agreed upon the format and approach of the events. The content of the modules is currently being developed. Upon completion of the methodology for the workshops, the dates for the events in the different countries will be published.
Work Meeting on Website and Conversational Sets, 12-16 June 2010, Sozopol, Bulgaria
The work meeting on the website and the planned conversational sets was held in Sozopol, Bulgaria, on 12-16 June 2010. The partners agreed on the content of the sets and distributed the tasks for gathering and developing the required information. The basic parameters for their design and layout were marked. The discussions also covered the information to be included in the project website and its technical possibilities.
Work Meeting on Methodology, 1-3 April 2010, Vilnius, Lithuania
The partners held a work meeting on the project methodology in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 01-02 April 2010. The discussions covered the development of the associative hieroglyph chains, the approaches for adapting the Chinese language to the 5 source languages as well as methods for introducing cultural information about China to Europeans.
16 February 2010
The partners agreed to hold the second partners meeting in Vilnus, Lithuania, on 01-02 April 2010. The main topic will be the methodological approach for presenting the chinese associative hyeroglyphic chains to the trainees.
04 February 2010
The first partners meeting of the MPCE project took place in Sofia, Bulgaria on 04-05 February 2010. The partners discussed the aims, activities and expected results for the project as well as their specific role in the project activities.
"Mission Possible: Chinese for Europeans" is a European project with the main goal to bring the entirely distant Chinese language closer to Europeans.

In a reality when China is the largest trade partner of the European Union and when almost all business sectors are connected to China, it becomes a priority for a high number of organizations to facilitate their business and intercultural communication with China.

The project products will be directed at business companies, cultural organisations and educational institutions which support any direct or indirect relations with China.

"Mission Possible: Chinese for Europeans" will develop non-traditional methods for providing language information in Chinese in an easily accessible way. It will allow people to perceive language information in Chinese through specially developed associative hieroglyph chains. The chains will be included in multimedia conversational sets along with basic information about China and the Chinese language as well as a list of helpful behavioral norms which could be taken into consideration in the intercultural communication with China. The sets will be available in Chinese-Bulgarian, Chinese-Lithuanian, Chinese-Italian, Chinese-Portuguese and Chinese-Dutch.

Interested people will be involved in practical workshops and go through blitz-courses in basic Chinese. Later on they will be able to share their experience with the project products at contact seminars.
"Mission Possible: Chinese for Europeans" is being implemented under the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) of the European Commission.

The partner institutions under the project are:

ZNANIE Association - Sofia is established in 1990 in Sofia with main activities related to education. There are three main departments operating in the area of language training, vocational training, developing educational management systems.
KU TU Ltd. is a private company specialised in the field of advertising services and PR. It provides full advertising services to its customers - planning, design and realisation.
The company has also gained experience in the promotion of language learning through its participation in international projects funded under EU-programmes. It is focused on developing innovative products, materials and approaches for non-formal language education applicable to different target groups.
Soros International House (SIH) is an affiliated member of International House World Organisation (IHWO), of the Lithuanian Association of Adult Education and Chinese Lithuanian Trade Association, a Language Teaching and Teacher Training centre.
SIH has been involved in many European projects since the year 2000, many projects coordinated by SIH were rewarded. SIH has explicit experience in Adult Education, Intercultural Learning and Active Citizenship, developing methodologies for Language teaching and promotion.

tel. +370 5 2724879; +370 5 2724892
Amitié is a centre of studies for the design and management of projects in the field of education, new technologies, culture and social development.
F.L.E.P. is a private language school aimed at promoting and organizing a wide range of language courses . as well as designing and editing innovative resources for language learning.
Pressure Line is an agency for visual and creative communication and works mainly for governmental and non-profit organizations. Together with our clients we create effective communication means that make the organization or company recognizable and contribute to its unique visual identity. Pressure Line also develops various projects as an own initiative or in cooperation with partners on national and international level.

With its first recorded history dating back to 1500 BC, China claims the world's oldest existing civilization. During most of its history, China was ruled by a series of dynasties the last of whom ended in 1911 with the establishment of a republic by Dr. Sun Yat-sen. From 1911 until 1949 there was great turmoil in China as various factions fought for supremacy, ending with the establishment of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949.


» The Mandarin word for China in Zhongguo which means middle country, implying China is the centre of the world.

» China has gone through a long history of primitive society, slavery society, feudal society and semi-feudal semi-colonial society and the present socialist society.

» During the Cultural Revolution students, in the form of Red Guard, went on a rampage. Schools and universities were closed, intellectuals and artists of all kinds were dismissed, persecuted, sent to labor in the countryside, or killed. Temples, monuments, and works of art were defaced and destroyed. All religious institutions were closed and religious workers were sent to prison or to work in factories or in the countryside.

» Chinese Emperor Shi Huang-Ti built a network of 270 palaces, linked by tunnels, and was so afraid of assassination that he slept in a different palace each night.

» The purpose of the Great Wall of China was not especially to keep out the Huns from the north. The Huns could easily find places along the stretch that they could scale with ladders. But they couldn't get their horses across. Without their horses, they weren't very effective warriors.

» Except for a few minority groups and some rural dwellers, families are strongly discouraged from having more than one child. Those who ignore the admonitions can be severely penalized.

» Dashanpu in the Sichuan province of China has yielded over 1000 Dinosaur Fossils. Four Winged Feathered Dinosaurs called Theropods have been found; these are considered to be the missing link between dinosaurs and birds.

» The Great Wall of China is also known as the "Ten Thousand Li Wall", one Li is equal to 500 meters. The wall is over 1500 miles in length. The Great Wall of China can actually be seen from outer space! The wall was started 21/2 thousand years ago!

Culture, Way of Life, Traditions, Religion

» The Chinese year is based on the cycles of the moon. This is called a lunar schedule. A complete cycle of the Chinese calendar takes 60 years. The Chinese calendar dates back to 2600 B.C. It is the oldest known calendar.

» Each year is represented by an animal. There are twelve animals which represent the twelve months. According to readings Buddha named the years after the twelve animals that came to visit him before he left the earth. The Chinese believe that you have some of the characteristics of the animal representing the year in which you were born.

» When you write your name in China you put your family name first and then your first name. In Ancient China, characters were written on animal bones, turtle shells, silk and bamboo slices.

» Food plays an important part of every festival, family gathering and business meeting. Much of the basic diet in China is based on rice and noodles and the usual drink is tea.

» Red is considered a lucky color in China. At one time wedding dresses were red. New Year's banners, clothing, and lucky money envelopes are still red.

» Even though the Communist government encourages atheism, there are five recognized religions in China today: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestant Christianity. Confucianism is not officially a religion, though through the centuries, there have periodically been temples devoted to the worship of Confucius.

» Bamboo is a very fast growing plant which can grow up to one metre a day. It's eaten by Pandas.

» If a Chinese child loses an upper tooth, the child's parents plant the tooth in the ground, so the new tooth will grow in straight and healthy. Parents toss a lost bottom tooth up to the rooftops, so that the new tooth will grow upwards, too.


» Early Chinese inventions include paper, printing, silk, kites, umbrellas, the abacus, porcelain, etc.

» Fireworks - They were invented by the Chinese as entertainment, but were later used to scare off enemies in times of war.

» Gunpowder - It wasn't designed first for war uses, but as elixir for immortality. Unfortunately for the Chinese, the only thing that gunpowder did was explode. The invention of this made wars less gruesome and painful. Instead of dying slowly by a fatal sword wound, a shot takes toll immediately.

» Compass - The compass is one of the most useful inventions by the Chinese, used widely in planes, boats, and in the wilderness to find direction.

» Ice cream was invented in China around 2000BC when the Chinese packed a soft milk and rice mixture in the snow.


» China's money is called renminbi, meaning the peoples currency.

» China's economy has been improving rapidly since 1979 when China opened the doors to foreign investment and opened the economy to more private initiative. This has resulted in a vast increase of consumer activity, so that upper middle class families have many symbols of middle class affluence: refrigerators, telephones, color televisions, video CD players, and more

» According to economists, China will become the world's wealthiest nation by the year 2012.

» China manufactures 60% of the world's bicycles (the United States buys 86% of the world's bicycles).

» As of January 2006, 30% of China's exports are now electronics.


» For thousands of years, Chinese people have been influenced by three great trends in human thinking: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

» The YinYang philosophers studied the nature of the cosmos and attempted to account for all its changes in terms of two fundamental principles, the Yin and the Yang. This philosophy was thought to have originated with scholars in the departments concerned with astronomy, calendrics, and meteorology.

» The Ru scholars derived inspiration from Confucius. These philosophers were concerned with education and ritual in the various offices concerned with teaching and instruction.

» The Mohist philosophers emphasized frugality, utility, and economy in all things. They were exceptionally conservative in following traditional religious notions and were thought to have originated in offices concerned with temples and sacrifices.

» The Logicians dealt with the relation of names to realities. They were thought to have emerged from officers concerned with ranks and positions in the court and with the ceremonies to which such rank and position entitled an officer.

» The "Legalist" philosophers emphasized the importance of legislation over tradition and custom as embodied in ritual and social practice.

» The school of the Dao or Way attempted to understand the ultimate principles of reality and to offer a fundamentally different concept of social organization.

About Chinese language

Chinese is a Sino - Tibetan language. One fifth of the world's population speaks Chinese as their native language. Spoken Chinese has a lot of dialects. Official language is Mandarin Chinese and it is based on the Beijing dialect.

Chinese is a syllabic language and there are about 400 spoken monosyllables. One syllable is represented by a character. There are 10 - 20,000 Chinese characters, but that does not mean that there are only 10,000 words. Usually Chinese words are made up of two characters and the same character may appear in few different words. Because of this, there are a lot of homophones in the Chinese language. These homophones are distinguished by five tones or even by context of language.

The first tone is even, the second - high rising, the third tone is low falling and then rising, the fourth tone - high falling, the fifth tone is neutral and usually appears in the last syllable of the word. Correctly pronounced tones are very important as they can change the meaning of the word.

Pinyin is a Romanization system, which helps to convert Chinese sounds (syllables) to Latin letters. Each syllable consists of vowel and consonant (initials and finals).


» Chinese Civilization is one of the few ancient civilizations to have its individual writing script.

» 24% of the world speaks Chinese.

» Fourth graders in China are expected to know about 2,000 Chinese characters. By the time they leave college, they will know 4,000 or 5,000 characters.

» The Han Chinese is the largest majority group in China. Mandarin Chinese is the official language. However in total, 55 official minorities and 206 listed languages are mentioned.

» Mandarin Chinese is spoken by more than 70 percent of the population. Cantonese prevails in Hong Kong and in parts of the Guangdong Province.

Dos and Don'ts
It is crucial to understand that Chinese value the fixed and ages ago established hierarchical relationships. They have a concept of li (理) in their culture. Confucius once said: "Don't look at what is contrary to li; don't listen to what is contrary to li; don't speak what is contrary to li; don't make any movement which is contrary to li". The concept of li denotes a lot of things: ceremonies, rituals, propriety. Even the character li symbolises the act of sacrifice. In other words, li - a way, a ritual which helps to maintain hierarchical order. Li means rituals, concerning personal conduct, social relations, political organizations and religious behavior. Nowadays we call it "law" or "order". So the person who neglects the order of li is wuli (无理) - without logic or without order.
Li is a manner in which each person has to act so as to maintain hierarchical order. Each person was expected to behave according to his place in this social order. In other words, everyone has a role in society and must act depending on his position. Social role can change in different environments, but hierarchical relations must be maintained. If everyone knows his place, the harmony and stability would prevail in society and state. The idea of hierarchical order is still important in the Chinese business world.

But nonetheless important are collectivism and "face".

Chinese often see themselves not as individuals, but as a part of the family or group. Collectivism is related to the Confucian ideas of extended family. So in business, the organisation and group decisions will be the most important. Because of this, some Chinese decisions might seem delayed and procrastinated. The reason is that every act needs a group's consensus.

Collectivism can be seen in eating traditions. Eating in groups, where food is shared, is very important. The culture of food is also ritualised. Eating process was regulated, which had to help to maintain the harmony of peoples relations. So it is not surprising that even today the process of dining together is very important in doing business in China. Dining evaluates guest's importance, expresses respect.

Paying ones respect is also called "giving face" in Chinese. The expression of "face" or "lose face" is very important in Chinese culture. In some western countries losing face means shame, but in China this cultural aspect is much wider. Face is honour, reputation, a person's public image and perception. One can "lose face" or "give face". It is mutual relation where you can lose your face by causing other person to lose it. It is very important not only not to lose your face, but also do not make any actions causing someone else to lose face. One can lose face when puts the other person in an uncomfortable situation or position. If you cause someone to lose face, it means that you try to destroy a fixed order and hierarchy. As every person has a place in society or group so that if you cause one person to lose face, it can mean that everyone in the group would feel diminished. It is very important when establishing the business relations with Chinese. Properly given face undoubtedly will be the key to the succesfull cooperation. Lost face can close all the doors, even if you make a very attractive business offer.
First contact
» Greet with slight nodding - in Chinese culture it is a respectful gesture
» Use the specification (Mr or Ms) or the title (director, manager) and the surname of the person you are speaking with. Try to avoid "you".
» Be careful not to mispronounce names (mainly with old people)
» People's look, dress and attitude are very important
» Do not be late for a meeting (telephone to inform that you are late)
» Do not hug or kiss with other people (at the first contact, later you can). Greet a person with a handshake.
» The person of higher position initiates greeting, so do not rush to give your hand first.
» Be polite and friendly, patient and kind, relaxed and honest. Chinese will analyze your body language so it is the best to sit still, as any movement could be seen as a secret message to your team members
» Listen carefully to the people and speak slowly
» Respect them even if they are doing something that you do not usually accept
» Show interest in what they are saying
» Spend your private time together
» Do not be too direct, start conversation speaking about the city, the hotel, then later about family and job
» Do not ask personal questions in a business meeting
» Do not be arrogant
» Do not say no to what is being offered to you (food and drinking), unless you are a woman
» Do not refuse an invitation to lunch or dinner
» It's polite if the whole team comes together
» Meals in China have been always tailored to the guest, and you are requested to taste all the food
» Using chopsticks is appreciated, however you are not obliged to use them if you are not able to
» Do not stick the chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice since this is the way it is offered to deceased members, what is more, it symbolizes the death for those sitting under the table
» Do not spear/stab food with chopsticks
» Do not point with chopsticks to anyone or wave with it
» Do not lay your chopsticks across the plate - it brings bad luck. Use the chopstick stand instead
» Do not leave a glass or a dish empty (it means the drink or the food was not enough), or say that you already ate too much
» Do not leave a liquid in the glass during a toast
» In business, you are requested to drink (unless you are a woman) and if you don't you are not trusted
» You can be the first to make a toast, even if you are a woman, if you want to thank to the host who has invited you
» Be ready to make a toast or speech
Business meeting
» Usually business includes eating and drinking
» Give your business card with both hands, head bowed (always give your card!)
» Do not hand out business card without text in Chinese
» It is not acceptable not to exchange business cards
» Make presents before a business meeting
» Don't open the presents in front of other people, it leads to a face loss (if the present is too cheap or too expensive)
» It's best to wrap presents in golden or red paper
» Do not have a business meeting without clear agenda and topics to be discussed, thus every side will be able to prepare and avoid unpleasant surprises
» Try to catch your goals step by step
» Do not show that you are in a hurry
» Do not force Chinese to make quick decisions
» Do not show that Chinese are wrong in front of other people
» Do not loose your face
» Do not interrupt anybody, mainly in front of others, then make your comments
» Do not ask people to confirm what they already said
» Do not rush when doing business
» Do not be too direct
» Don't become arrogant, loud and curse
» An eye contact on first meeting with business partners means that you are honest and do not plan anything bad. However, try not to gaze.
» Respect the hierarchy
» The person sitting in front of the door has the highest position; the person on his right is second in the hierarchy
» During business meetings partners sit next to each other, it is better when two people share the same view
» The stamp is obligatory for every contract (the stamp shows that the deal is not between two persons but between two organisations which they represent. The stamp should be put in a way that the pages shouldn't be possible to be replaced or falsified)
Improving your relationship
» Be interested in Chinese traditions: holidays, Chinese mythology, zodiac signs, Earth and Sky
» Learn the Chinese holidays and make references to their symbolism (number 6 represents happiness as it sounds similar to the word liu - "to flow"; 8 is similar to facai, which means "becoming rich", so this number indicates wealth and prosperity. 4 is homophonous to si - "dealth", so 4 is the most unlucky and most avoided Chinese number. If your gift includes flowers, they should be an even number. Chinese believe that good things always come in pairs)
» Learn about the Chinese horoscope
» Ideas for a gift: a book or sweeties for children, flowers for ladies, wines or spirits for gentlemen
» Do not speak about political issues and human rights
» Do not speak about Chinese political system, some historical events (like colonisation, etc.)
» Do not judge the different cultural habits (e.g. keeping/eating of animals)
» Do not underline that you have a different point of view. Chinese people do not like such a situation at all, what we consider a challenging discussion seems for Chinese people often an embarrassing attack. This also came from Confucuanism where everyone's clearly defined place in society was the most important. Any deviations or critisism were not accepted as they threatened the established social order and harmony of society. So even today, Chinese will always support the opinion of the group or a higher authority (state's ot company's)
» Do not generalise statements about China: there are 56 nationalities living there

Printed sets

Download Chinese-Bulgarian Set click here
Download Chinese-Dutch Set click here
Download Chinese-Italian Set click here
Download Chinese-Lithuanian Set click here
Download Chinese-Portuguese Set click here

If you would like to join any of the project events, or to receive additonal information, please contact us:
Your Name:
Your Email: