Etiquette of conversation
The meal ought to be a social occasion in a formal setting. The dialogue is probable to center on points light and informative content concerning, probably concerning the region or the company (business).
This is not the time for setting future arrangements, even if a further meeting seems inevitable. Setting a future meeting during a meal in a social meal may indicate you are not enjoying yourself.
Sometimes the local wine may be opted for at social banquets over a foreign wine. The Chinese often offer a very strong alcohol named Maotai or baijiu. There are some special types of baijiu which they use for toasts. Don’t ever drink from the glass that you use to toast with, except for drinking to the toast of course.
Don’t let the size of the glass fool you, the strength of your baijiu is going to be stronger than champagne. The Chinese hosts will know that you are aware that their alcohol is very strong, therefore on some social occasions they won’t try to force you to drink. You are allowed to refuse alcohol without causing offense in most cases, unless the business you are visiting revolves around alcohol.
Some hosts provide yogurt in order to help line your stomach. It is useful to absorb the alcohols strong effects. Do not drink baijiu on an empty stomach, otherwise you will soon find yourself drunk. It is a good idea to have a little to eat prior to the toasts.
If you cannot drink for personal or medical reasons, they will respect your wishes. You should, however, let your host or superior know at the beginning of, or before, the banquet. Your host is going to appreciate the careful consideration you pay them. They will often make arrangements to avoid any possible embarrassment.
At formal meals and in high-class restaurants, the servers may convey consistently rotating plates. Thus, every now and again you should eat from your plate to show that you have every intention to completely clean plate.
Try to strike a balance of polite conversation and eating. While these rotating meals may be exasperating from the get go, embrace the pace and soon you will get the hang of the way it works.
Find out about the meal and the food in advance. There will be diverse types of meat; the highlight of the meal may be a broiled fish, which comes with noodles, rice or ravioli. Your meal will finish with a sweet.
The host pays. In the event that you are given food, do not take your cash out or offer to pay. If you are the host, then send somebody to pay the bill, or hold up until your visitors are gone before you pay.
The Chinese will take considerable measure to provide sustenance. They will find out in advance if you have any dietary restrictions or unfavorable food susceptibilities.
It is an indication of good manners if you eat what you are given, or at least taste all the items you have given. If on the other hand you pretend to like something too much, it may be interpreted as a request for more.
If you are the host then you should eat when the guests eat. Quite often a cold dish is already waiting for the guests to eat.
The host should offer the toast in order to celebrate the guest’s presence, partnership, friendship, or to make their final point. If you are the guest then you may choose to make a toast. If so you should wait until the guest has made all of their toasts.
There may be more than on toast. If you do give a toast you should try to keep it sincere and warm. If you are the guest then do not make your toast last longer than the hosts, because it is considered rude. A Chinese person may say “gan bei” which means “bottoms up”.
Sometimes the presence of drinking is seen as a mark of a close working relationship. It allows the relaxation of the social etiquettes a little, helping to show the hosts and guests true colors.
Do not make the first move in this assumption, but if you notice your guest getting a little less formal and a little friendlier as they get drunk, you may follow them in kind. There are regional rules for toasts. There is nothing wrong with asking your host for any local customs.
Closing the occasion
The meals do not last forever. More often the formal suppers will end suddenly. This will often be when the most important person rises to leave. They will often thank the guests for attending and leave the room. You may consider this sudden or rude, but it is just their way. They will often pass around the sweets shortly after giving the most important person his or her (his) sweet.
This is because once the most important person has finished his sweet, he may wish to leave. This is why the staff/host will pass around the sweets shortly after the most important person gets his, so that everybody will have a chance to at least taste the sweet prior to having to leave.