Alcohol, food, and sex are fun. But in China, the culture of banquet and brothel has become largely joyless, a business tool chiefly directed at transactional relationships with other men. . .Palmer says this behavior has faded of late because of tough anti-corruption campaigns, but still endures.
In private conversation, many businessmen confirm that the process is often a chore. Especially outside of the metropolises, few of the establishments involved are particularly seductive. Instead, there’s a sweaty griminess of wipe-down sheets and 1970s floral wallpaper, as these photos from one small-time scandal show. In classier establishments, Western pin-ups hang in gold-tinted frames. And endless going out is physically wearing; my old boss would take the train, rather than the plane, because travelling “soft sleeper” gave him a rare chance to rest after two or three nights of “entertainment” for work.
But the purpose of these visits isn’t a good time. It’s to cement business and personal ties, binding men together through the power of taboo and mutual self-exposure, or at least the pretense of it. It lets them judge that the others involved in a potential deal are men of the same stripe. . . . Vice serves as a kind of screen, weeding out the rare few who might have moral qualms about future dealings. It tells both sides that they’re playing by the same rules.
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
The Business Culture of Newly Capitalist China
Fascinating look at Chinese business culture in the boom years. The article is by James Palmer, who worked in China for years and did a lot of "business" in bars, clubs, and brothels: