Dining out is a big part of doing business in China

Private room at Waitan Bar and Restaurant, Sydney
Grand Room 88 at Waitan Bar and Restaurant, Sydney
Much of business is done in China over a meal and if you are asked to dinner it can be a sign that the relationship is progressing well. It is important to appreciate dining etiquette to show respect to your hosts.

During early visits to China I was unaware of some simple tips which would have been handy to know at the outset.

There is a hierarchy when it comes to seating, and make sure you wait to be seated. The host will do the ordering, but don’t start eating straight away. Allow the host to serve you, and leave a small portion on your plate after each course.

Up market restaurants may provide two sets of chopsticks, one for eating and one for serving. Rice is served last to signal the end of the meal.  And whatever you do, don’t stick your chopsticks upright in your rice!

2016-01-24 11.20.03Drinking tea involves long traditions such as tapping on the table when served to show appreciation and holding the teacup with two hands during a toast. To signal to wait staff to refill the teapot, turn the lid of the pot upside down .

Your host may also go around the table and toast  each guest. 干杯 gānbēi literally means to empty your glass. Make sure you clink your glass a little lower to show respect for someone more senior. It is a small gesture that shows your cultural awareness.

And when it comes to paying the bill there may be a tussle, but it is generally accepted that the host picks up the total bill, especially when you are in their country, as you would do when they have a return visit.

Here is a link to a great article on Chinese etiquette to get you started!

干杯 gānbēi! with Judy Hendricks, Australia Asia Executive Connection
干杯 gānbēi!
with Judy Hendricks, Australia Asia Executive Center.