Agence France-Presse “British minister in cultural gaffe after giving Taipei mayor 'taboo' watch” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/27/british-minister-cultural-gaffe-taipei-mayor-taboo-watch
A British minister was left red-faced after giving the mayor of Taipei the gift of a watch – a taboo act in Chinese culture – only for him to joke he would “sell it to a scrap dealer”.
Ko Wen-je*2, a high-flying surgeon and mayor of Taiwan’s capital, made the remark after he was handed the pocket timepiece by British transport minister Lady Kramer*3, who was visiting Taiwan on a trade exchange.
When asked by a local reporter to comment on the gift, Ko said he might give the watch to someone else or “sell it to a scrap metal dealer for some money, because it would be useless to me.”
Giving someone a clock or watch as a present is traditionally taboo in Chinese culture due to the similar pronunciation of “giving a clock” and “attending an old person’s funeral”.
時計を贈る＝送鐘表（song zhong biao）
In response, his British guest tried to play down the embarrassment.
“I’m sorry. We learn something new each day. I had no idea a gift like this could be seen as anything other than positive. In the UK a watch is precious – because nothing is more important than time,” she said in a statement.
She also highlighted the significance of the watch, which she termed as a “very unique item” from the House of Lords.
*2:柯文哲。http://kptaipei.tw/ See eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko_Wen-je http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%9F%AF%E6%96%87%E5%93%B2 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%9F%AF%E6%96%87%E5%93%B2 http://baike.baidu.com/view/10880717.htm