Corruption behind the crazy price of Maotai

By Chunyu Jinzhang
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, November 3, 2010
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The leading group of a city usually comprises 10 people including the party secretary, the mayor and vice mayors. For them, 4000 bottles are far from enough. As a result, the number one man usually assigns an aide to manage the precious store of Maotai and ensure that his demands take precedence over those of the other leaders.

At a Party meeting the number one man might extend some words of consolation to his subordinates: "Comrades, it's not that I set out to abuse my position to monopolize the Maotai. It's just that the supply is too low. Consider the annual supply of 25000 tons a year, equivalent to just half a billion bottles. How can that meet the rising demand from all over China. And our buyers are below par. Once again they have failed to lay their hands on enough."

Our army officers have a special fondness for Maotai liquor, reflected in the oft-told tale of former premier Zhou Enlai engaging in a drinking contest with General Xu Shiyou.

For a civilian, to be able to drink a whole bottle (or half a liter) of Maotai at dinner is something to boast about. But many army officers are not satisfied with drinking only one bottle, which cannot fully demonstrate their heroic mettle. Also, they disdain to drink in the same manner as civilian officials. Consequently, Maotai liquor has begun to appear in liter bottles, produced specially for the enjoyment of our army officers. As to what proportion of our military expenditure is actually spent on drinking Maotai´╝înobody has the guts to try to find out, as it is undoubtedly a military secret.

People may say that I am out of date to regard the consumption of Maotai as the epitome of corruption in today's China. Though high, the price of Maotai has not yet gone above 1,000 yuan a bottle, and even the strongest drinker can drink no more than two bottles during one meal. Now, we have entered the age of ice liquor, of which high-end brands can cost 1,500 yuan a bottle. A person with a good capacity for drink can consume 8-10 bottles during one meal.

Friends, don't be shocked by this, as the era of consumption of Lafite is approaching. This well-known wine is made in France, and costs about 20,000 yuan a bottle. A capable drinker can drain 3-5 bottles at one sitting´╝ü

It sounds absolutely inscrutable. But the point is who the buyers of these liquors are. If they are owners of private enterprises, it does not matter too much, as all that is lost is some state assets to which we ordinary people have no access at all. However, if they are government officials or army officers, the tax payers of China can do nothing but lament, as what is wasted is their hard-earned tax money.

Mr. Chunyu Jinzhang, president of a well-known stationary company in China, has been working as an amateur teacher of English for over 30 years and was the first man in China to promote the Queen's English.

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