8 Tips on How to Survive Chinese Business Dinners

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Business dinners are an integral part of corporate culture in China and it’s important that you know how to compose yourself around the dinner table, especially as some Chinese business dinner …

Business dinners are an integral part of corporate culture in China and it’s important that you know how to compose yourself around the dinner table, especially as some Chinese business dinner etiquette can be confusing for the uninitiated. Here are some tips on how to survive a business dinners in the Middle Kingdom.

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  • 1. 8 Tips on How to Survive Chinese Business Dinners
  • 2. Learn some Chinese: This is the easiest and quickest way to make a good first impression and your host will be pleased you made the effort to learn some Mandarin. 1
  • 3. 2 Take plenty of business cards: Business cards are very important in China, when you receive one make sure you take some time to look at it and don’t put it away immediately.
  • 4. 3 Wait to be seated: Seating location can be very important; always wait to be seated to avoid offending anyone. The host usually sits facing the door so they are the first person guests see when they arrive.
  • 5. 4 Try every dish: Don’t eat too much too soon; you don’t want to get full before the last dish has arrived. Always leave some food on the plate otherwise other guests will think you’re still hungry.
  • 6. 5 Chopsticks vs Knife & Fork: If you’re not a chopstick master practice your technique before a meal. Don’t be afraid to ask for a knife and fork; your host will understand you are not accustomed to using chopsticks.
  • 7. 6 Making toasts: Toasting should always go in the order of host first and then working through other guests in hierarchical order. Clink your glass lower than the rim of your host’s glass to show respect. It is not compulsory to drink alcohol.
  • 8. 7 Talking business: Don’t be surprised if no one seems willing to talk shop. Chinese business dinners are more about building on and solidifying relationships. Never talk business unless the host does.
  • 9. 8 What to talk about: Topics that are best to avoid include Taiwan or Tibet. Safe topics include Chinese culture or places you have visited, or would like to visit, in China.
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