If you ask a Chinese person in China how much money he or she makes, odds are that person will tell you. Because you are living in a culture where it’s ok for someone to ask you your salary within 5 minutes of meeting you, and that opens up all sorts of doors. It’s like you get this secret peek into the financial lives of everyone you meet, and IT’S OK!
Discussing one’s income is not always a matter of bragging because not everyone is rich. Most of the time Chinese people do this as a way of getting to know another person. Once you speak to people and find out their income they tell you more about how they live. It is not a rude or bad thing in Chinese culture to talk about money, and sometimes good comes out of it. For example, people might help you to secure a raise after they found out that you are underpaid.
This Chinese money habit may be related to the fact that in the past the gap between people’s salaries was not so large. For instance, some people talk freely about this with their colleagues. Or when friends meet they might discuss whether their incomes have increased or not. If you do not really want to tell people how much money you make, you can give a vague answer like, ‘not much’.
Believe it or not, recently it’s common that some young people would show their salaries on the internet. They may put information about their basic wage, allowance, bonus etc. This helps people learn the income differences among various jobs.
If your friend’s income is very low, they would feel the situation was unfair, rather than feel embarrassed. For instance, the income of those working in the field of telecommunications, the oil industry or electricity industry enjoy at least four times the salary of those common textile workers. But anyway, it’s a way of learning about other people’s lives. Otherwise you’d never know about it.