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Mooncakes and corruption

It is a tradition in China to give mooncakes to business relations in the weeks before the mid-autumn festival. This year the festival will take place on October 6, but the first mooncakes have already appeared in shops. I don’t like mooncakes, especially the ones filled with beanpaste or eggyolk (problem is, you often don’t know what the filling is until you eat them). So most of the mooncakes I get I give to friends or staff. The only ones I really like are the ice-cream ones from Haagen-Dasz (hint for business relations reading this!).

However, often people do not just give mooncakes, but combine the package with some other gifts. It is not unnormal to get a nicely wrapped box with a couple of moon cakes together with a bottle of expensive spirits, or even a combination with silver tableware. This low-level form of bribery (because that is what it is of course) will now be banned according to the Shanghai Daily. The paper writes that an industry association will carry out an examination to ensure that the new rules will be implemented.

I don’t expect that anything will change, giving expensive boxes with mooncakes is too much part of Chinese business culture. The fact that the association cannot penalize the manufacturers makes their effort almost useless. But, they argue, they can still give the names of the offending companies to the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau. So in case you are a producer of mooncakes packages there is not much to worry about. But if you want to play it safe, you’d better send some of the more expensive mooncakes gifts to the industry association officers to ensure they won’t mention your company name to the bureau.

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  1. OF course ONE knows what is inside the mooncake !!!!!!! Otherwise how is it possible for the shopkeeper to know, with so many varieties on their shelves, which is which?

    One can tell from the designs on the face of the mooncake, the shapes, the size etc. etc. etc. And of course the PRICE.

    Those that contain salted eggs would be more expensive than just plain bean paste.

    There are more to mooncakes than just as present!

  2. Of course everyone knows what’s inside the mooncake when you buy them. What I meant is that when people offer you a mooncake to eat, you often have no clue what to expect when you take a bite. Some may have markings on them, but certainly not all. Therefore, if I am not sure what’s inside I try to politely decline the cake.