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Umbrellas would not be welcome in most places in China because pronunciation of 'umbrella' resembles separation. Of course nobody would like idea of separation, particularly concerning your loved ones.
Clocks would not be welcome, particularly on someone's birthday because pronunciation of 'clock' resembles termination, which means death. No wonder people don't like receiving clocks as birthday gifts.
If you want to give your friends some fruits, remember to buy an even number of them because odd numbers would bring bad luck. So buy 10 apples instead of 9.
Foreigners may find it awkward when your friend says 'You don't need to buy anything when you come here.', or 'Keep it to yourself. I have a lot of these'. He may not mean it. What you need to do is to insist on him receiving gift since Chinese people do not tend to receive gift immediately.
Don't mind it if he doesn't open your present immediately too. Chinese people would think opening present in front of you would be impolite and so they would tend to put it aside and only open it after you have left.
These ideas can only be served as guidelines. Knowing that you come from a foreign culture and being more broad-minded to foreign ideas, Chinese people are nowadays more tolerant to things which are not in line with their culture. So, don't worry too much when you visit a Chinese friend or family. Maybe your exotic idea would bring them a lot of surprises!!
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