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What’s “Mianzi”?

Mianzi, which means “face” in English, is a fundamental concept in the fields of sociology, sociolinguistics, semantics, politeness theory, psychology, political science, communication, and face negotiation theory. It is a combination of dignity, pride and public reputation, particularly through the eyes of one’s close connections.


As a famous Chinese saying goes, “Men live for face as trees grow for bark”. Managing mianzi is an integral part of Chinese etiquette. Surface harmony is the art of maintaining composure and remaining polite and courteous. It can be so important that Chinese may sweep aside business to keep it.

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