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Business and Social Etiquette In China


Home -Information Centre - Business and Social Etiquette In China - Alcohol

Forming a personal relationship ("guanxi" in Chinese) in your business dealings is very important. Part of this involves participating in the strong drinking culture that exists here. Generally, the Chinese regard with suspicion anyone who does not participate in the inevitable drinking that takes place during almost all business dinners. And it is at these kinds of social occasions that most negotiating breakthroughs are made.

Toasting, usually with beer, is an important part of Chinese business etiquette.

ou will often find three glasses on your table: a glass for your drink of choice (toast with this glass), a wine glass, and a shot glass for a liquor.

The host of a banquet offers the first toast. If you prefer not to drink alcohol, it's perfectly acceptable to toast with a soft drink, glass of juice, or mineral water. Toasts will be proposed throughout the meal. Two popular toasts are "ganbei" ("bottoms up!") and "gan bei" ("drain your glass!").

Sometimes, the Chinese enjoy testing the ability of a foreigner ("laowai") to handle his or her alcohol, especially "er guo tou", a potent clear alcohol that one might compare to airline fuel. A good practice would be to eat something beforehand.

Before smoking, it's polite to offer cigarettes to those in your company.

The meal has reached a definite conclusion when fruit is served and hot towels are presented. Shortly after these items are offered, guests should make preparations to leave. In accordance with Chinese business etiquette, the host will not initiate the guests' departure.

Tipping is generally considered an insult in China. It is sometimes expected, however, in some of the bigger hotels and by younger service personnel. (24/05/2006)


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