Banquets Structure

Chinese banquets typically last two hours. As guests arrive, they proceed through a receiving line in order of highest- to lowest-ranking hosts. Guests are then seated. Banquets in China have definitive beginnings and endings. The principal host offers a welcoming toast to begin the banquet (or shortly thereafter), and it is customary for the principal guest to reciprocate with his/her own toast. Upon toasting, the formal meal begins. At the conclusion of the banquet, the host will again stand and toast, thanking the guests for attending. Again, it is customary for the principal guest to reciprocate in thanks to the hosts.

Banquets Seating

Seating is typically arranged ahead of time through staff-to-staff contacts, according to rank. The principal guest is seated to the right of the principal host at the head table. Other guests are seated at other tables in a manner mirroring seating at the head table. Guests should notify the Chinese host in advance of the rank of visiting members of the delegation. If hosting an event, be sure to seat people of high rank with others of high rank, doing otherwise may be considered offensive.