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Chinese Etiquette Lecture-Table Manners



Table manners play a very important role in Chinese daily life. In China, dining is not only a way to meet basic physiological needs, but is also an important social occasion – especially when doing business with partners and meeting with clients. Thus, foreigners who are interested in doing business in China should master some basic Chinese table manners and dining etiquette.


Seating etiquette

1. In China, the most respected or distinguished person usually sits on the most central position of the table, and the rest of the guests sit in order according to their status. When taking your seat, you should do so from the left side of the chair. After you are seated, do not lower your head. Instead, keep your body upright and keep a distance of about 10-20 cm between the table and your body. Additionally, do not make noise or play with the tableware.

2. In China, the main seat is a very important position. Under normal circumstances, the person paying the bill will take the main seat. Typically, the main seat is the farthest from the door, and is at the centre. The seat opposite the main seat is normally taken by the assistant of the inviter. The guest of honour and the second guest of honour sit on the right and left sides of the inviter respectively. Guests ranked third and fourth in the hierarchy sit on the right and left side of the assistant.

It is rude to let the invitees and guests to sit face-to-face, or let the guests sit on the main table. It is in the Chinese culture to ensure that guests do not feel nervous. The inviter can designate the guests’ seats, and his/her subordinates or juniors can be placed in a more ‘important’ position than his/her own. The arrangement of the seats reflects the identity and position of the people at the table.



Dining etiquette


1. When dining, the guests and the elderly usually taste the food first, and then others follow suit. When picking dishes, you should remember to take appropriate amounts and do not be excessive. Also, it’s better not to take food from dishes far away from you, and always keep quiet when eating. If you want to try a soup, do not forget to use a spoon to drink the soup instead of drinking it straight from your bowl. If the soup is too hot, drink it after it is less hot and do not blow on it while you are drinking it.

2. Do not burp and make any other unnecessary sounds when you are eating. If you make an involuntary sound, such as sneezing and stomach grumbling/growling, you should apologize.

3. When you eat meat dishes that have bones in them, don't just spit and throw them on the ground. You should remove the bones from your mouth and place them on your own dish, or put them close to you on the table. Alternatively, you can place them on the prepared paper.

4. It is necessary to take time to talk to the people around you about light-hearted matters to lighten the atmosphere. Don't just lower your head and eat while ignoring others. Besides that, It’s very impolite if you get drunk or eat excessively.

5. It is better not to pick your teeth at the table. If you really need to, make sure to use a napkin to cover your mouth,

6. When you are finished and preparing to leave, you should express your appreciation and thanks to the host for the delicious meal. Meanwhile, you can invite the host for another meal in the future.






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