"Face" is the all-important issue in China. A cross between pride and social status, it’s all about appearances, yet its cultural roots run deep. Shame someone publicly, and you may lose their friendship for life; make them look good, and you’ll go far. What makes people lose and gain face is complicated, but respect is the key issue. Don’t get all upset if things go wrong, especially when reserving tickets and hotel rooms. Instead, be stern but friendly—raising your voice and threatening will get you nowhere. Keep facial expressions and hand gestures to a minimum; when pointing, use your whole hand, not a finger. See our China Travel Guide.