Chinese wealthy raise a glass to their official investments

By Wu Guangqiang
0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, March 16, 2011
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Has the price hike really been driven by consumption? Nope.

Moutai, for instance, presented the price spike with a fair-sounding excuse: High prices match with owners' status. Ji Keliang, board chairman of Moutai, quipped, "Why can't Moutai be sold at 1,000 yuan when foreign wine and brandy are sold at 10,000 yuan? There is still much room for price increases."

Yes, status! But what form of status is he talking about? We can make a guess from the remarks made by Ye Tan, a famous financial commentator. She said, "However expensive Moutai becomes, it will still sell out, because a certain consumer group have a thick skin for the price changes regard Moutai as a signature of their status and enjoy a maximum pleasure from something beyond consumption itself."

Who are the "certain consumer group who have a thick skin for the price changes"? By most accounts, they are haves, officials squandering public funds and, most likely, corrupt officials. It's no secret that those who drink Moutai never buy it while those who buy it seldom drink it.

It's chiefly public funds that keep pushing the prices up and up. Delicately packed, Moutai changes hands as a present, serving as a business lubricant, flattery for bosses and even a bribe for officials. No wonder some critics call the prices of Moutai the "corruption index."

A liquor that was once for rich and poor alike an ornament of the powerful. Of course, in this sense, the higher the prices, the more elevated the status.

The author is an English tutor and freelancer in Shenzhen.

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