Nothing really new here, but the New York Times, in In China, Social Evenings Are Considered Part of the Business Routine, concisely explains the etiquette involved in Chinese business dinners:
- Business dinners are “a very important event.” The article does not say this, but I will. If you want to do business with a Chinese company, it really pays to accept their dinner invitation and you should learn the basics of what is, essentially, a ritual.
- Business dinners on the mainland usually start at 6 or 6:30.
- The Chinese host sits at the head of the table facing the door. As the company’s guest, you should sit “directly across from him if the table is rectangular. If it’s a round table you’ll be seated to his right.”
- “Paying attention to details…can improve your standing in business negotiations.” “Giving face comes through what you say; it can come from body language; it can come through a seemingly gratuitous demonstration that you understand some aspect of the culture; it can come from something like a proper seating chart at a circular dinner table.”
- Never pour your own beverage. Make sure the glasses of those next to you are always full.
- Do not stick your chopsticks into your rice “like sticks into the ground;” Use your chopstick rest.
- Taste everything but do not clean your plate.