2. Round table – while Westerners are used to getting all their food on one plate, in China every dish is meant to be shared. The only things you have private during dinner are your chopsticks, bowl of rice and a glass. Sitting at the round table makes it easier to reach all the dishes. Quite common in restaurants is usage of so called Lazy Susan – a turntable (remember not to move it while someone else is picking their food). Personally I find it pretty ingenious idea as it allows you try all set of different dishes during one dinner.
4. Seating order – it does matter where you sit. The guest of honor should be seated at the place facing either East or the door. If you're invited for a formal dinner it would be best to ask the host where you can sit (in case you've misjudged your importance). That way you'll avoid possible misunderstandings.
5. The bill – always paid by the host. There's no tradition of splitting the bill. Even if you go to a foreign restaurant in China and ask to split the bill, the waitress will look at you suspiciously as if not knowing what to do (if it is a fancy – read expensive – restaurant in a big city, it might not happen though, as those places tend to adapt Western customs). There's also no need to leave a tip. There's no custom of doing it and the waitresses would be confused if you did so (again - foreign restaurants might be an exception).
Those 5 points pretty much sum up the customs you should be aware of in order not to offend your Chinese hosts. There are however a few things you ought to know about for your own sake, since unawareness might cause you quite a cultural shock.
- Burping, slurping and all that noise – in other words every kind of table manners that you've been taught from early childhood as extremely rude. Those are not considered so in China. No one would as much as blink if your boss or business partner suddenly burp during dinner. He's just complimenting the food after all. To this pleiad of noises you should add also chewing with open mouth and speaking VERY loudly (you can't imagine how noisy it is in a Chinese restaurant). All those habits are probably the ones that are the most difficult for Westerners to get used to. No matter how long you've been in China or how knowledgeable you are about the customs here, you just can't help wanting to snap on reflex “Would you mind?!” each time you hear the 'noise'.
- Waste. Let's say you're eating chicken wings. Normally you'd put the bones at the 'corner' of your plate. But there's no plate. Just the bowl of rice. WWCD (What Would Chinese Do)? Just leave it on the table (that's why they never have tablecloths) or just throw it at the floor (depending on where you are). It's a common sight to see a group of Chinese leaving their table with mountains of bones, napkins and other trash piling underneath. The fascinating thing though is that the waitresses can clean this mess in less than 5 minutes (often with a hose).