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China’s ‘Official Liquor’ Is Bribe Of Choice

From the China Compliance Digest (Issue No. 7: March 19, 2012):

Known as ‘China’s national liquor,’ Moutai has become a mainstay of official government dinners and receptions, despite its per-bottle price of 2,000 yuan (US$316). Proposals to ban Moutai at government-funded events have become common in recent years.

On March 9, Moutai executive Liu Zili prompted widespread outcry when he responded to one such proposal, “If Moutai was banned, I would be confused what drink could be served at government receptions. Should it be Lafite (French wine Chateau Lafite Rothschild) instead?”

In a March 4 Newsweek article, Chinese liquor expert Zhao Chen said, “Chinese people have a saying—‘Those that buy Moutai don’t drink it; those that drink Moutai don’t buy it.’”

Professor Wang Ning of Zhongshan University recently put a finer point on it: “Buyers often use public funds, and sometimes their own money, to buy this wine in order to bribe government officials.”

Sources: Xinhua News, Newsweek


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1 Comment

  1. Wine with dinner, in my opinion, can never be a bribe. I don't care how much it costs, if you're going to drink it with the meal, it's not a bribe. I'm skeptical that a meal itself, if you're there and eating with the official, can ever be considered a bribe. Okay, if you *flew the official* somewhere to eat, that's an issue. But a local meal, even in a really nice restaurant…I just don't think it's a problem. Companies pay attention to it because they get scared into it, but has there ever been a case where a nice meal was even part of the allegations? I can't think of one off the top of my head. Companies are right to pay attention because it's a gateway into more problematic things. But the meal itself, no.

    Wine as a gift gets trickier. And giving away auction-quality wine or specialty liquors that cost over $1,000, that kind of thing, is truly problematic.

    But with a meal, and I think you're fine.

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