The Importance of "Face" in Chinese Culture

“Face” or reputation in this context is 面子 (Miànzi). Face refers to a sociological concept in general linked to the dignity and prestige that a person has in terms of their social relationships… Read more on Wikipedia. also has an excellent blog post on this topic HERE.

This page has 2 sections, here are jump links:


I. Videos About Face

CT Johnson– Top 10 List

Phương Công – Vietnamese but applies to Asia

Jondayah Martin TN

Jondayah Martin – East v. West in under 2 min.

Expats in Asia – Part 1 is mostly fluff, here is part 2

Clark Morgan Insights TN

ClarkMorgan Insights – Old but on point video

Lena Elsborg – Skip ahead 1 min.

Everyday Chinese – Story About Respect

II. Vocabulary







yǒu miànzi

Have Face

Have honor, reputation, self-respect, and pride.


méi miànzi

Have No Face

“A loss of honor, reputation or self-respect. 

In other words, your pride has been destroyed on some level or you have brought the judgment of others upon yourself or other close to you, especially your family.

You are ashamed of yourself or something you did.



Lose Face

To experience humiliation in any form. 

“Losing Face” comes before “Having No Face.” 



Want Face

When a person wants “too much Face.”

Those who have this attitude will go to great lengths to cover their weaknesses and show off their strengths. 

They often pay more than the usual attention to their conduct to ensure that they do not incur shame in any form upon themselves, their family or close associates.


bùyào liǎn

Don't Want Face

When a person has no sense of shame. 

This statement is usually in the context of a negative judgment by others.


liú miànzi

Save Face

This refers to acting in a way that brings honor, a good reputation, and self-respect to yourself and those around you.

Chinese people often go out of their way not to embarrass people they interact with, thus “saving their face.” 

This includes not spreading “face losing” rumors, or calling out the mistakes of others, especially in public.

給面子 / 賞面

gěimiànzi/shǎng miàn

Give Face

To show deference (humble submission and respect) or publicly praise. 

Often Chinese people will do things they do not necessarily want to do if it saves the face of another person, especially their family members and close associates. 

Giving face includes not calling out the mistakes of others at any time, especially in a business or academic setting.

One of the videos, in this lesson states that if you do not give face in a business-related argument “you may win the battle, but loose the war.”  This is much different than the west, where many want to win at all costs without regard for the dignity of others. – Clark Morgan Insights



Flip Face

This refers to having a serious difference or argument with another person that results in a falling out.

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