China is known as a state of etiquette and ceremonies. Many proverbs have been passed down from generation to generation such as "civility costs nothing" or "courtesy demands reciprocity" and so on. For instance, there is an interesting short story. Once upon a time, a man went on a long tour to visit his friend with a swan as a gift. But it escaped from the cage on the way and in his effort to catch it, he got hold of nothing but a feather. Instead of returning home, he continued his journey with the swan feather. When his friend received this unexpected gift, he was deeply moved by the story as well as the sincerity. And the saying "the gift is nothing much, but it"s the thought that counts." was spread far and wide.
Chinese used to cup one hand in the other before the chest as a salute. This tradition has a history of more than 2000 years and nowadays it is seldom used except in the Spring Festival. And shaking hands is more popular and appropriate on some formal occasions. Bowing, as to convey respect to the higher level, is often used by the lower like subordinates, students, and attendants. But at present Chinese youngsters tend to simply nod as a greeting. To some extent this evolution reflects the ever-increasing paces of modern life.
Eating and Dining
First of all- Where to sit? No you cannot randomly go pick the best seat, right next to a friend of your host. There is a specific order to where you can sit.
The host sits nearest to the door.
The guest of honor sits opposite.
Other honorary guests sit to the left of the guest of honor.
Don"t eat a whole meal, just sample everything on your plate. There will be a lot of courses.
Don"t eat everything on your plate, or your host will see to it that you get more food to eat. Instead leave a little bit of food on your plate.
Never pour your own drink first. Instead make a toast, about business or friendship. Pour everyone a drink, leave no one out, or it will seem as if you forgot them. Even if the persons cup is filled, pour a few drop in, or give the cup a long stare, before moving on.
Don"t take the last piece of food on the platter, as it will seem as your greedy.
Don"t take your chopstick and turn them into forks by poking into the food. You must use the chopstick to pick up the piece.
If you pick up a piece with a chopstick and drop it, don"t attempt to pick up another piece instead, keep on trying.
Don"t start playing the drums with your chopsticks.
Don"t use the chopsticks as tooth picks, or suck on them.
Don"t vertically place your chopsticks on top of a bowl, it resembles death.
Personal space varies from country to country. The Chinese have less personal space than the westerners, so if you find that they are really close, it is normal. You might step a step back, but they might just take a step closer.
If you are in China, and pushed in a line, don"t feel bad, the Chinese aren"t use to standing in lines, and you aren"t required to be polite to strangers.
Chinese don"t like when you point your index finger to point, use this only to call a person( use you open palm to point), snap fingers, and whistle.
At the same time, westerners don"t like when you slurp your soup, or when you eat and talk at the same time. Yet the Chinese don"t mind.