By guest blogger Nicole Wang
你好！How’s everyone today? I guess you have grasped the art of writing a Chinese business email. If you haven’t, please review yesterday’s lesson. Today we are going to talk about Chinese business dinner etiquette. Here are the top five rules of Chinese business dinner etiquette:
1) If you would like to host dinner with business friends at a private room in a restaurant (which is very common in China), it is appropriate to sit in front of the room door, because the host should always be the first person to know if there will be more people coming.
2) Seats at left side in general are better than seats at right side (it has a historical reason; I can write an essay about that reason if you guys would love to hear story…just comment and let me know).
3) During dinner, guests should only start eating when the host (or senior level ppl) starts to eat. You may want to ask me: what if the host is junior and you are senior? In this case, it is your responsibility to start the dinner. We use chopsticks(筷子，kuai4 zi) at dinner. If you have no idea how to use them, please ask your friend to help.
4) At any dinner, it is rude to hit bowl with chopsticks; stick chopsticks in the middle of bowl; and point at someone with chopsticks. Waitresses will sometimes provide a bowl of water before dinner. Remember, that bowl of water is used for cleaning your hands, not to drink. I have a couple of friends who made this mistake when they visited China for the first time.
5) Chinese people like to toast, so you have to be ready at all times. It is inappropriate to eat while others toast. Another thing you should keep in mind is that there a decent amount of business deals are signed at the dinner table. So it is better for you to have a decent drinking tolerance when doing business with Chinese companies in general.
Parting Chinese cultural fact: Do you know, the first romantic book was written by Chinese almost 3000 years ago.
Nicole Wang M.S. E.D. is a post-graduate from Penn in International Education. She was born in East Asia, grew up in China and Japan and is passionate and experienced in the area of international educational research, study abroad programming, and Chinese language/culture training. She is currently available for professional assignments. Contact: nicolewang12 -AT- gmail.com