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Foreigners often wonder, why Chinese people use the phrase “你吃饭了吗” (Ni chi fan le ma?) as a greeting, meaning “Have you eaten yet?”


This way they greet each other and their foreign friends or partners, often inviting them to have a dinner together before or after a business meeting.

Such invitations are more than just a common courtesy. It is an important part of Chinese culture and business ethics. Such “dinner meetings” (宴会 -yan hui) symbolize unity, which is also reflected in the way the table is laid.

People sit around a big table, taking food from big plates. The tables usually have round rotating tabletops, so that everyone can try every dish.

Such dinner meetings are more than just a tradition, having its roots in Chinese history, Confucianism and collective mentality. It is also a great opportunity to get better acquainted with your Chinese partners in relaxing and casual atmosphere, discuss business prospects and enjoy traditional Chinese cuisine.

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