Shaun Rein

Mooncakes and watches are just a few of the items you cannot give officials as a gift anymore, as Xi Jinping‘s anti-corruption drive is gathering steam, in stead of losing it. But gift-giving is not disappearing, tells business analyst Shaun Rein in the Jing Daily, it is just changing.

The Jing Daily:

The long-term effects of the ongoing corruption crackdown on the mooncake market reflect a larger shift in the way the rich are consuming luxury items in China, says Shaun Rein, founder of China Market Research, a Shanghai-based consultancy that focuses on the buying habits of China’s wealthy class. “The culture of gift-giving is still there,” he says. “They’re just giving different types of gifts.”

As officials continue to be investigated for graft, fear of being suspected of giving or taking bribes is moving the culture of gift giving away from showy items, such as Louis Vuitton bags or gold foil wrapped mooncake boxes. “Mooncakes are obvious,” says Rein. “Everyone sees mooncakes as a corrupt gift.” Instead, market trends are moving towards items that can be used or consumed in the home and are not so easy to appraise at a glance, such as massage chairs or health supplements, he says. And the flow goes both ways. As officials are increasingly hamstrung in bestowing favors at will, those looking for favors are hedging their bets with less expensive gifts. “A couple of years ago, if you gave someone a ¥5,000 watch, it was almost quid pro quo the official could help you with anything,” says Rein. “Now, when they give a gift, it’s only ¥1,000, because they know the official might not be able to help them now.”

More in the Jing Daily.

Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

China Weekly Hangout

Foreign firms complain in western media they are having increasingly a hard time in China. But it all a matter of perception, argued China-veteran Janet Carmosky and business professor Richard Brubaker in the China Weekly Hangout on August 22. Western journalists focus on Western firms in China, that might be fair, but they ignore China’s real challenges. Moderated by Fons Tuinstra of the China Speakers Bureau.

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