A handful of rules, in case you find yourself at a Chinese party - and by this I mean fully Chinese, as in your Chinese boss or business partner invites you for dinner and you're the only foreigner there. Hope you find them useful.


Dry Cup (Cheers  -   ganbei)

It's called ganbei, which translates literally as "dry cup." You'd be better do it, or be forever branded as a disrespectful sissy.

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Image: thedrinksbusiness.com



Be Respectful (Toasting - Jing Jiu)

As a foreigner, you're not expected to do likewise, but it will be much appreciated if you do. Once you've started, make sure you toast everyone who might outrank you It's called jing jiu: "respectfully proposing a drink." If the people are many and you're worried your head might not take it well, you can tick them off in twos and threes; it's perfectly acceptable.

If you want to impress your hosts even more, remember to hold your glass in both hands.

Remember: if you're the one offering the toast, you're putting yourself in an inferior position, which means you have to be the more respectful one. Thus, it's better if you're the one offering the toast, you're putting yourself in an inferior position, which means you have to be the more respectful one. Afterwards you can tip it slightly towards the person you were drinking with to show them you've drunk up.


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Image: Business Insider



Clinking glasses

This one's tricky and very easy to overlook. If the party is big and everyone is toasting at the same time, instead of getting up and clinking with everyone else, people might simply clink the surface of the table with the bottom of the glass. 

But if you're toasting one or two people, they'll usually want to clink glasses, even if the table is very big. If you do this, try to make sure that the brink of your glass is lower then theirs. It's another way of showing respect.


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Image: theworldofchinese.com



Courage, quantity, and quality

The running opinion is that Westerners can drink much more than Asians.

It's perfectly all right if you get drunk, even during business dinners. In fact, it's kind of expected. If you leave sober, your hosts might think they've failed to show the proper hospitality. 

As a foreigner you might be required to drink even more, since the running opinion is that Westerners can drink much more than Asians. Then again in China, as everywhere else, it's a point of pride to be able to hold your drink.

Chinese liquor


After reading the last point I can see a lot of people thinking, "wow, that's great! I can drink all I want, I'll probably outdrink everyone else and if I do not, they'll like me all the more for it! "Fair enough, Western people usually can drink more than Asians. But let's not get too cocky.

First, the alcohol you'll be drinking will not necessarily be to your liking. I've yet to find a foreigner who says they actually like drinking baijiu or gaoliang jiu (potent Chinese rice and sorghum liquors), which is what will likely be if you have a choice, you may prefer huangjiu - less strong and very sweet, definitely tastier to our unaccustomed palate.

If that's what's served, you're safe, as Chinese beer is much weaker than Western. That being so, you'll have to drink up whole glassfuls of it. At least make sure they give it to you cold and not tepid, as they often drink it.

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Image: Lost Laowai


If all this seems a bit daunting, do not worry too much. Your hosts know you're used to a different way of doing things and they'll not expect you to follow their rules. If you observe them, you're scoring They just want to make you feel it. 

Ganbei! 

Source: Matador Network