Of course everyone in China uses chopsticks, so if you’re planning on moving here, you better get used to them. When I first got here in 2008 I couldn’t use chopsticks. I’d say it took me about a month or so to get them down pat, and then after that I was fine for the most part.
There are a few different kinds of chopsticks, but the most common are wood and plastic. Wooden chopsticks are my favorite and they work best. You’ll get them with takeaway food and anything else that comes in a Styrofoam container. Plastic chopsticks, on the other hand, usually come in restaurants. These are a bit larger and harder to get a handle on. It’s easy for your food to slip out from between them, and they’ll take additional practice.
If you’re sitting down in a restaurant, most of your dishes will be laid out on the table in front of you. They’ll be in plastic shrink-wrap, which mean they came back from the dishwashers. Most restaurants won’t wash their own dishes, but instead place them out on the street in large plastic boxes. These will be picked up by a truck that takes them to a dishwashing plant.
Even if they’re in plastic wrap you’ll be expected to clean them. A large glass or metal bowl will be on the table, and you’ll pour your hot tea or water over each dish to sanitize it. Don’t worry, if you forget it won’t kill you; I’ve done it many times.
You don’t tip in China. Some restaurants, mainly those catering to foreigners and with a more foreign menu, might charge you a customer service charge of 10% to 20%. But after that there’s just no tipping. I never do it, and I quite enjoy it. Chinese people don’t expect to be tipped, and if you leave money on the table they’ll often give it back to you. Just get in the mindset that you won’t have to be doing that anymore.