During three years, from 1844 to 1846, Évariste Régis Huc, C.M., a French Catholic priest of the Congregation of the Mission (Latin: Congregatio Missionis), went on a trip which resulted in the famous book Travels in Tartary, Thibet and China during the years 1844-5-6. His accounts of Qing-era China, Mongolia, and the then still little-known Tibet include many sharp observations about the daily lives of the people in the vast area he visited. For example, he describes his visit to a gambling den that offered a special service to those who had lost everything, including their clothes. A sharp knife and a bowl with boiling oil ware provided to the poor gambler for a last attempt of winning back by offering a finger as a wager. The finger was cut off and the stump sterilised with the oil. Abbé Huc spends a whole paragraph on begging the reader to believe that he really saw this with his own eyes and that it was a certainly not a single occasion, as the instruments were ready and the value of a finger was established without a discussion.
More than 200 years later your humble editor was living in a Hakka village in the New Territories of what was then the British colony of Hong Kong, seeing every day on the way to university four elderly ladies with their characteristic black hats sitting around a table playing Mahjong (Majiang). Some harmless way to while away retirement it seemed, but at closer observation it became apparent that the ladies were playing for thousands of Hong Kong Dollar (equivalent to hundreds of US dollars) each day. No wonder that the real government of the colony was commonly agreed to be the board members of the Royal Jockey Club.
In the People’s Republic of China gambling is officially forbidden, even though playing Mahjong and similar games for money in private is not punished by the government. Macau SAR is the only place which offers casinos in Greater China. However, looking at all the advertisement for online betting companies in Chinese on the advertising boards of football stadiums during Champions League games shows that this form of betting is still thriving in China. Visiting casinos further away from the CCTV cameras in Macau is of course a major reason for many Chinese to travel abroad, for gambling and allegedly also for money laundering.
Betting and games of luck have been an important part of life for Chinese of all classes, genders and regions throughout history and have survived all attempts to get rid of such an anti-socialist vice. What is new in China is the fact that younger urban Chinese have started to become interested in the two state-run lotteries in China. Until recently, the two state-run lotteries for Welfare and for Sport mainly appealed to middle-aged and elderly gamblers, with tickets sold at newsstands and little stores. However, the high levels of unemployment and the bleak outlook for many young citizens makes young people more interested in trying their luck.
Lottery ticket sales are up by 50%, but especially scratch cards which show immediately if you won or lose are popular and sold at many more kiosks and shops than before. As one comment in Chinese social media said: “It seems it has become easier to win 10 million RMB then the earn 10 million RMB”.
Maybe a good idea to include a free local lotto ticket in the welcome package for Chinese guests in hotels around the world?
You can read more about this topic in the Deep Dive Consulting Text of this week’s edition of COTRI INTELLIGENCE.
The Topic of the Week of COTRI INTELLIGENCE deals unsurprisingly with the lessons to be learned from a realistic assessment of the Golden Week, which this year came in an XXL edition as it could be combined with the Mid-Autumn Festival. The first Golden Week without any CoViD-related restrictions brought a wave of spending and travelling bigger than seen in the last three years, but not as big as predicted and certainly not as big as official Chinese media try to portray the development.
Facts and Views provides another deep look into Chinese culture: “Pengyou” (friend) is one of the first words learned when studying Standard Chinese language (Putonghua / Mandarin), used for practically everybody you meet outside of clearly defined relations. “Zhengyou” however means a friend or an adviser who dares give voice to unpleasant truths, offering discomforting opinions and counsels caution. How important the differentiation is and how a lack of Zhengyous seems to influence modern China, is another aspect of how to communicate with Chinese business partners or customers.
The COTRI weekly Editorial is now a part of COTRI INTELLIGENCE, which offers deep insights and current information for the Chinese outbound tourism market. As a subscriber of the COTRI weekly Editorial, you will be given access to the free content of COTRI INTELLIGENCE or you can register by yourself at https://cotri-intelligence.ghost.io/.
As always, best wishes from your humble editor and the entire COTRI INTELLIGENCE team!