The Chinese have a rich heritage and culture when it comes to drinking and giving cheers. Just like other big countries such as France or Germany, there are rules involved in order to not come off rude or disrespectful. They aren’t crazy to learn and you most likely do most of them already.
Before we go into how the Chinese prefer to cheers, we did want to mention that while you are in China you will quickly learn that the popular drink of choice is the Fiery Baijiu. It’s local to the country and is present in bars, business meetings, and really wherever people get together to socialize.
Ganbei – (pronounced “gon bay”). Ganbei is the proper way to give cheers in Chinese. In English terms the meaning is “bottoms up”. They do take this cheers to hear and if you are caught giving or receiving this toast, get ready to finish your drink. This can lead to many challenges among tables to see who has what is takes to last all night. The good thing is you will quickly make new friends if you can remember their names the next morning.
Before you start the night off, it’s important you choose the appropriate drink depending on the environment. Many people that go to China want to try Baijiu, their countries strongest drink, but if you get stuck in an endless loop of cheers, chances are you won’t last even an hour. If you find yourself at a bar, order a Tsingtao instead or just say pijue, mening beer. This way you can give toasts as many times as you like and let the good times roll.
The Chinese also do enjoy many drinking games that usually involve some time of finger guessing. For first time players be prepared to drink heavily, but as you catch on there is a method behind the madness. Other games may involve dice and in a rare case cards. Either way, there are always reasons to give a good cheers when visiting China.
Chinese Cheers Etiquette
There are a few rules involved when giving a proper toast.
1. It’s polite to give compliments to everyone toasting. The countries culture is all about humility and respect so it’s important not to point out anything negative while speaking to someone.
2. The oldest person will typically give the toast so raise your glass and listen to their short speech.
3. Probably doesn’t need said, but like most countries you will want to wait for the cheers to be over before taking a sip of your drink.
4. It’s polite to refill other people’s glasses and in turn they will refill yours.
5. For people older than you, it’s respectful to keep your glass just slightly lower than theirs when touching glasses.
6. During the cheers, the Chinese will usually hold their glass with their right hand and hold their left hand under it.
Summary of Chinese Drinking Toasts
In Chinese culture, drinking toasts are an important part of social gatherings. Toasting is a way to show respect and appreciation for the people around you while also expressing your hopes for good fortune in the future.
The most common type of Chinese toast is called Ganbei (“dry glass”), which literally translates as “empty cup” and involves everyone raising their glasses before downing them in one gulp.
Other popular toasts include Yumingshan (“May our friendship last forever!”) and Shouhuojiu (“Celebrate life with wine!”). When making a toast, it’s important to maintain eye contact with all participants throughout the ritual. It’s also customary for each person involved in the toast to take turns offering words of encouragement or congratulations before taking a sip or gulping down their drink.
A successful Chinese toast typically ends with cheers from everyone present and shouts of Ganbei! Chinese drinking rituals can be incredibly meaningful experiences that bring people closer together through shared moments of joy, celebration, and mutual support. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just enjoying time with friends, learning how to properly make traditional Chinese drinking toasts can add an extra layer of connection between those involved.