Chinese culture suffers little from dangerous college binge drinking like the US, yet China’s ritualized banquet toasting culture managed to take the lives of two party officials this summer.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post and a report on CRI, Wuhan’s deputy director of water resources, Jin Guoqing, died of an alcohol-induced heart attack this July. A district chief in southern Guangdong province, Lu Yanpeng, fell into a coma and later died after a drinking round at a separate banquet.
China’s toasting culture is a way of showing respect to hosts by participating in ganbei’s, cheers, and it reigns supreme at formal banquets. To refuse is considered a loss of face, and generally the higher a person’s rank, the higher the number of subordinates lining up to clink glasses.
According to the report, officials’ “ganbei culture” wastes roughly 500 billion yuan in public funds each year—an expensive way to end two lives.