Q:

Should you clear your plate when dining in China?

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Quick Answer

It can be considered rude to clear all the food off of a plate in China, particularly when dining in a private residence, because an empty plate can be seen as a sign that the diner wants more food. This may be interpreted as a subtle dig at portion sizes, indicating that the diner wasn't given enough to eat.

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Leaving food on one's plate may also be seen as a sign of wealth in China, though this may be changing. According to Public Radio International, some Chinese environmentalists are encouraging their countrymen to clear their plates to cut down on food waste, meaning that an empty plate may not necessarily be loaded with symbolism.

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