The table manners in China

As we all know, different countries have different table manners. Today, I’d like to introduce something about Chinese table manners.

In China, as with any culture, there are rules and customs that surround what is appropriate and what is not when dining, whether it is in a restaurant or in someone’s home. Learning the appropriate way to act and what to say will not only help you feel like a native, but will also make those around you more comfortable, and able to focus on you, instead of your interesting eating habits. The customs surrounding Chinese tables’ manners is ingrained with tradition, and some rules are not to be broken. Failing to understand and follow all of the rules could result in offending the chef and ending the night in an unfavorable way.


1. The main difference between Chinese and western eating habits is that unlike the West, where everyone has their own plate of food, in China the dishes are placed on the table and everybody shares. The food is served via large communal dishes, and in nearly every case, you will be supplied with communal chopsticks for transferring food from the main dishes to your own. You should use the communal chopsticks if they are supplied. If they are not or you are unsure, wait for someone to serve food to their own plate, and then copy what they do. On occasion, an eager Chinese host may place food into your bowl or on your plate. This is normal.

2. It is rude to not eat what you are given. If you are offered something you absolutely can’t stomach, finish everything else, and leave the rest on your plate. Leaving a little food generally indicates that you are full.

3. Don’t stab your chopsticks into your bowl of rice. As with any Buddhist culture, placing two chopsticks down in a bowl of rice is what happens at a funeral. By doing this, you indicate that you wish death upon those at the table.

4. When setting down your chopsticks, place them horizontally on top of your plate, or place the ends on a chopstick rest. Do not set them on the table.

5. Do not stab anything with your chopsticks, unless you are cutting vegetables or similar. If you are in a small, intimate setting with friends, then stabbing smaller so as to grab items is okay, but never do this at a formal dinner or around those who adhere strictly to tradition.

6. When tapping glasses for a cheer, be sure that the edge of your drink is below that of a senior member, as you are not their equal. This will show respect.

7.  Do not get offended if your fellow diners eat with their mouth open, or talk with their mouth full. This is normal in China. Enjoy, laugh, and have fun.


And, remember when leave the feast, you should show your thank to the master; or invite the master to your house hereafter.

More information about the table manners what to do and what to avoid in China:

Maybe you are interested in the differences of table manners between China and the UK:

 Have you already noted it?  So next time , if you eat with your Chinese friends in a Chinese restaurant or be invited to their homes, you can show him/her table manners.^^


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