A glimpse of the drinking culture of China; Chinese hesitate to hail the title as world's second alcohol-loving nation


Chinese Society  Updated:Thu, Apr 4, 2013 09:41 AM   By Bernd Chang


While some Chinese regards the title that China ranks second in the world’s most alcohol-loving nations as a triumph, more Chinese are worrying the Chinese drinking culture.

The longest civilization, the largest developing country, the biggest iron producer, the second largest economy, …China has many titles Chinese government and the people like to boast of. But at least for the recent one, Chinese hesitate to hail as a national pride.

In a list of the “10 most alcohol-loving nations,” China came in second, the news has been widely reported in China. The report, quoted from an CNN article, entitled World's 10 best drinking nations, compiled a list of countries where alcohol is available in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. China, after Britain, was followed by Russia, France, Ecuador, Moldova, South Korea, Uganda, Germany and Australia.

Although the report does not provide any scientific approach to the rankings, the conclusion has prompted heated discussion among Chinese social media.

Sure, there are not lack of responses regarding it a triumph for the Chinese nation as there is a sense in Chinese culture – as in many alcohol-consuming, machismo cultures – that one's ?? (jiuliang – tolerance for liquor) is an expression of their strength and masculinity.

But the majority of Chinese netizens do not like the newly crowned title at all. The drinking culture of China, which features in repeated, prolonged shooting of small amounts of high alcohol-concentration liquor, and often against the will of the guests and hosts, has long become an object of public denunciation.

Ctitics say that China’s version of banquet drinking is a bit like the war without fire. As long as you sit down around the banquet table, drinking alcohol is a usually must, red wine if you are very lucky, Beijiu if you are not; Even if you do not like the smell of liquor, you have to drink as much as you can when invited by your guests or your host. That people get drunk, talking loudly, yelling at each other when requesting the otherside to ganbei (empty the cup of liquor), or even evolving to a brawl, are repeated occurrence on Chinese banquet.

Some Chinese even decry the fact that some of China's alcohol supply isn't genuine liquor at all, but a series of cheaper, toxic knock-offs.

Though observed in all social circles, drinking alcohol is particularly prominent in China’s formal banquet culture, where business suits and government officials rub elbows, talk business and get completely sloshed.

Here we translate the Tencent Viewpoint article about Chinese alcohol culture with the title the Alcohol Kingdom for our readers to better understand the charactistic Chinese liquor culture.

Something you must know about Chinese drinking culture

Baijiu (??), literally meaning "white liquor", "white alcohol" or "white spirits", or "white wine", is actually a distilled liquor, generally about 40–60% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Ganbei (??), literally meaning "empty the cup of liquor", "drink it all", "cheers", are commonly used on banquets in China.
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