Dining etiquette in China can be as intricate and daunting as it is in the eyes of most foreigners. Respecting and appreciating cultural differences can really cultivate the best of international business relationships. Remembering the following table manners can put you more at ease, make you more enjoy Chinese cuisine and strengthen the business relationship with the local partners.
1. Attend the formal business dinner punctual in formal suits. It is better to bring some small gifts or good win per status of the relationship with the host.
2. Take appropriate seat as they are usually arranged according to seniority. If you are not sure about it, ask the host or wait and see how others take seats.
3. Don’t be surprised if your host order more food than you can have as it is usually the way Chinese show their hospitality. Moreover, it is a way to show their “Mian zi”, namely face in English as Chinese attach great importance to mianzi.
4. Don’t point your chopsticks directly at others or straight upright in your rice bowl as it resembles the incense burnt at funerals.
5. Don’t slurp your soup loudly at the dinner table as it is considered as impolite.
6. Take food first from the plates in front of you rather than those in the middle or in front of others. Avoid using your chopsticks burrowing through the food and gazing your eyes to the plates as it is thought as bad table manner.
7. Use a spoon that no one has used before to take food from communal plates for yourself or others even though it is common inChinathat in family gathering or company gathering, people use their own chopsticks to get food.
8. When adding rice to your bowl, it is polite to take initiative to fill the bowls of the elders and others.
9. Drinking bear is a core process. If you are toasting with others, usually it is expressed with the words “Gan bei”, which is denoted as “Cheers” in English, mainly bottoms up or empty your glass. It is not necessary to empty your glass, but to leave a good impression, it would be good to do it or bring someone who can drink on your part.
10. It is usually the host who pays for the bill excluding informal gatherings among friends and other similar occasions. However, in Chinese custom, it is polite to make an effort to pay, that’s the reason why it is common to see some Chinese fighting fierce for the right to pay.