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Life in the world is but a big dream;
I will not spoil it by any labour or care,
so saying, I was drunk all the day,
lying helpless at the porch in front of my door
-Li Bai, Waking from Drunkenness on a Spring Day
Baijiu (def) – Pure distilled evil in liquid form. Chinese firewater that could be used to put a man on a moon of a planet in a far off galaxy. All it has going for it is that it burns with a rather fetching blue flame. Other uses can be an engine de-greaser, curry stain remover, glass etcher, Room 101 torture.
-the Urban Dictionary
Archeologists from Jilin University recently dug up two large boilers, a porcelain urn, and thousands of furnace stones. They are relics of the earliest baijiu distillery yet found, from the Liao Dynasty (916-1125 CE). Now they must puzzle out why a thousand years’ practice in making baijiu has done nothing to improve the flavor.
A larger puzzle still – how can a society steeped in alcoholism have so few unabashed alcoholics? Friday night, amateur-hour drunks aside, where are the Chinese Skid Rows, the moth-eaten men panhandling for spare change to keep the pink elephants away? Alcohol is one vice the government steers remarkably clear of, with no laws regulating its purchase, consumption, or selling. So even though the streets of China are free to carousers who would sport about with a bottle of booze, good luck spotting one.
Make no mistake, at any given hour of the day, a healthy portion of China’s male population is getting soused. The difference is, enjoyment has almost nothing to do with it. Alcohol, particularly the vile concoction known as baijiu, informs almost all aspects of social bonding in China, based on the universal notion that manliness, honor and willingness to poison oneself are corollary functions.
So why, for all the tippling, does China steer clear of the very public effects of alcohol abuse manifested by, say, the Russians and their vodka, or English youth and their pub crawls? Theories abound:
Chinese society is based on strong family units and people exercise considerable influence on one another. Family and community norms effectively shape behaviour (Fei Ping, 1982).
BEIJING — Chinese authorities arrested a man and his girlfriend in the death of an elderly woman he knocked down while driving drunk and whose body was later found buried at a construction site. Police say the woman likely was alive when buried.
Both Confucian and Taoist philosophies emphasize moderation, a standard widely applied to alcohol use in China today (Sue, et al., 1985).
Early in the morning of April 25, a drunk Yeh crashed his Mercedes Benz first into a recycling truck at a Kaohsiung intersection, then into a woman surnamed Lee who was exercising on the street. Lee was decapitated in this incident, and Yeh’s fellow rider in the Benz was also killed when the vehicle flipped over.
The Confucian ideal of “moral drinking” that emphasises alcohol’s role in strengthening all that is good in a person mitigates against abuse.
China’s most decorated Winter Olympic athlete has been expelled from the national team for a drunken brawl with an official, throwing the successful short track speed skating program into disarray.
Chinese are highly “situation-centered,” and therefore unlikely to exhibit reckless behavior in a social setting (Hsu, 1981). The avoidance of embarrassment and the concept of “face” are powerful forces against drunkenness.
Telegraph: China’s top-ranking UN diplomat embarked on a drunken rant against the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, telling his boss he’d “never liked” him, and adding for good measure that he didn’t like Americans either.
Chinese traditionally drink alcohol only when eating. Drinking with food decreases the rate of alcohol absorption and may also reduce the amount consumed (Johanson & Schuster, 1981; Kalant, 1971). It is believed that alcohol should be consumed slowly to enhance its pleasure (Wang, et al., 1992).
The Chinese police captain who named his subordinate a “martyr” after he died from a drinking binge has been suspended, the Shenzhen Public Security Authority said on Tuesday.
Traffic officer Chen Lusheng of the southern city of Shenzhen was off-duty when he attended a banquet with officials from Mabu village in late October. After repeated toasts, he vomited and passed out on a couch, where he suffocated, state media said.
Traditionally, when drinking, Chinese play games requiring cognitive and motor skills, especially at banquets. The goal of the game is not to get drunk because getting drunk is the penalty for losing (Barnett, 1955; Fei Ping, 1982; Moore, 1948).
BEIJING, May 23, 2012 — The number of drunk driving cases in China has dropped by 40 percent over the last year after the implementation of an amended law that imposes stricter punishments for the offense, according to a public security official.
Chinese do not typically frequent western-style bars. Banquets and other drinking occasions are infrequent (Singer, 1972). Solitary drinking is looked down upon (Williams, 1998).
Drunken Chinese man gets a full body X-ray after falling asleep on baggage inspection machine at train station
For many Chinese, economic conditions restrict the use of alcohol to special occasions.
A scandal erupted at this year’s National People’s Congress when it was uncovered how much public money is spent each year by government officials on expensive Maotai liquor.
Some believe the physiological flushing response-the reddening of the upper body, especially the face-restricts alcohol use. There is mixed evidence to support this conclusion (Schwitters, et al., 1982; Park, et al., 1984).
A drunk driver attacked a female tollbooth operator in China after getting angry over long waiting times.
From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me –
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends
To cheer me through the end of spring….
Li Bai – Drinking Alone with the Moon