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Business and Social Etiquette In China

Hosting a banquet

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Hosting a banquet

Follow Chinese business protocol and reciprocate with a banquet of the same value; never surpass your host by arranging a more lavish gathering.

Generally, the Chinese are not great experimenters when it comes to their diet. Unless he or she has travelled extensively, the typical Chinese buisness-person doesn't like Western food. Better to take your guests to a good Chinese restaurant rather than, for example, the latest French restaurant opening in Beijing.

Home entertaining is very popular in China. If you are invited to a Chinese home, you will probably be asked to remove your shoes. Arrive on time, but not too early.

Small talk

Negative replies are considered impolite. Instead of saying "no", answer "maybe", "I'll think about it", or "We'll see" and get into specifics later. You'll find that the Chinese will do the same.

You may be asked intrusive questions concerning your age, income, and marital status. If you don't want to reveal this information, remain polite and give an unspecific answer. Don't express irritation with the questioner, since "losing face" has such negative implications in this culture.

In Chinese culture, the question "Have you eaten?" is the equivalent to "How are you?"; it's just a superficial inquiry that does not require a literal-minded, detailed answer. Simply answer, "yes", even if you haven't actually eaten.

Make an effort to learn and use at least a few words in Chinese; your initiative will be noticed and appreciated.

You may make inquiries about the health of another's family.

During a meal, expressing enthusiasm about the food you are eating is a welcome, and usually expected, topic of conversation.

"Small talk" is considered especially important at the beginning of a meeting; any of the topics suggested in the next set of points will be appropriate for this occasion.

(24/05/2006)

 

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