Chinese culture places great emphasis the appropriate treatment of guests. This naturally becomes part of their expectations when they themselves are guests. In order to put your and UMD’s best feet forward, we have the following tips and suggestions:
It is important to provide refreshments. If you ask the guests they will most likely say they do not want anything.This is more ritual than truth. You should give every guest something to drink. Chinese guests usually prefer tea or hot water (not ice water) to coffee, but it is best to offer all three. Another option would be to just place a bottle of water at each seating place (room temperature bottles, not chilled). The University Dining Services Goodies to Go(link is external) has boxed hot water that you can order to be delivered to your event site. It is perfectly fine to serve coffee, but please have cream and sugar available. You do not need to offer snacks, but if you do fruit and cookies are usually well received by Chinese guests.
It will be a good idea to set up tabletop name tents for everyone attending the meeting. These are useful to guide the Chinese guests into their appropriate seats, and help the guests and host to identify each other during the meeting. Make sure to print on both sides of the tents so people can find their seats easily. The head of the delegation should be seated either right next to the highest-ranking host if at a round table or directly across the table from the highest-ranking host at a typical meeting table. The principles sit in the middle, with decreasing rank extending outwards.
You should send someone to receive the guests from their car/van/bus and walk them to the meeting room. Have your business cards available for exchange when the guests enter the meeting room, exchanging with the delegation head first, then seat the guests.
It is your responsibility to start the meeting with welcome remarks. It’s very important to acknowledge the head of the delegation and thank him/her for visiting. It might be a good idea to add a very short introduction on UMD in the welcome speech, then allow the head of the guests to give his/her speech. After both principles have made their opening remarks, then substantive discussions can begin.
It’s very common for Chinese guests to ask for certain data on UMD, such as school ranking, department ranking, major ranking, the number of students etc. Make sure you can answer such questions.
At the end of the meeting, present a small UMD or Maryland-related gift to the head of the delegation, take a group picture, and walk the delegation to their car.