but still quite acceptable. Get advice from your adviser or someone in the foreign affairs office.
Be sure, when making arrangements, to find out what kind of drinks are included, and remember that most alcoholic beverages are not included in the price of the banquet. Wine, beer, and soft drinks are usually served, and you will want to consider whether to serve maotai. Remember to arrange for transportation for your guests and to pay for the drivers' meals, which will add to the cost. Open the dinner with a short toast of gratitude and expectations of continuing friendship, be sure to serve your guests with your serving chopsticks, encourage them to eat more, and relax as everyone settles in to their ritual roles and the enjoyment of the food.
While it is always a plus when a foreigner understands the rituals well, attitude is more important than superficial correctness. The banquet table is not the place to discuss unpleasant business or to remind your hosts of the glitches in their arrangements. In fact, the banquet can be used to smooth ruffled feelings and get your plans back on track. One researcher who had experienced more stalling than cooperation from his unit, which had never hosted a U.S. scholar, received his welcoming banquet several months after his arrival in Beijing. He made a point of being polite and positive on this public occasion. "My unit was very concerned that I would let my frustration show at my long-delayed welcoming banquet, and they were pleased to no end when I behaved like someone who understands China and can be a good guest."
Steven Butler describes using a banquet to bolster the standing of the local officials responsible for the day-to-day implementation of his work with a visiting official from their parent organization in Beijing. After demonstrating through relaxed, genial behavior how well everyone got along and toasting the importance of individual cooperation, he reports:
The cadre from the Academy left for Peking [Beijing] feeling that he had been well entertained, that my project was proceeding well, that local cadres had been doing an excellent job helping me out, and, most important, that his own work arranging my field research had been successful. The local cadres, in turn, were pleased because I had made them look very good in the eyes of someone whom they regarded as influential. It is by taking advantage of opportunities like this that the researcher can find ways to reduce the heavy burden which he places on almost everyone with whom he comes into contact.2
Anne F. Thurston and Burton Pasternak, eds. The Social Sciences and Fieldwork in China: Views From the Field, p. 121. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Inc., for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 1983. Reprinted with permission.