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How to Dine Right, the Chinese Way

Chinese culture takes dining very seriously. It is an art form, a ritual, a social occasion where relationships and bonds, both business and personal, are born and strengthened.

Dining, the Chinese way, goes far deeper than the act of consuming food. So read these five hints from Forbes.com, and make a good impression on your host and their guests.

And above all else, remember, dining in China is all about showing respect.

1. Be on time

Dining is the occasion where people demonstrate their respect toward each other. Do this by being punctual. It’s not fashionable being late for a dinner date in China.

2. Greeting others

Always greet the host first, and then greet others. Never overlook anyone. When you present your business card, do so with the Chinese writing face up towards the other person and hold the card with both hands. When accepting others’ business cards, hold the card as if you are holding something precious. And never write or doodle on it.

3. Conversation

Engage other guests with lively small talk throughout the dinner. Compliment the hospitality of the city you are in, and don’t bring up business unless the host raises the topic first.

4. Cues from the host

Follow the host’s cues as a signal that the meal is starting by joining him or her in an opening toast. After several rounds of toasts, return a toast of health to the host and party.

5. Bring a gift

Present the host and party with a small, meaningful, and inexpensive gift to thank them.

Now that you know the basics, you can dine confidently with your Chinese friends and colleagues. There is no better place or time to get to know someone important in your life, be it for reasons of pleasure or business.

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