Thanks to Donald Trump, China and America are on a collision course on trade. We have talked enough about trade in the last few days. I suggest we take a break and talk about collision course on something lighter, something more mundane, and something in our everyday life. I read a hilarious short piece about “How to drink with Chinese.” So in the spirit of Donald Trump, I am creating a collision course between the two great countries on liquor and beer.
First is the four-point American version about Chinese drinking habits based on my shortening of that little piece, followed by my four-point Chinese version about American drinking habits:
1. Lower your glass
It is a social custom that you lower your glass when cheers-ing people you respect. However, it's also a social custom that you lower your glass when the other lowers their glass for you. You don't want to be seen as an arrogant idiot who holds the glass up straight, so make sure you fight hard to win the lowering glass contest.
2. Keep up your pace
On every Chinese drinking occasion there’s a guy in control of everyone's pace. He decides what you drink, when you drink, how much you drink, and who you drink with - he is the DJ (Drinking Jockey). A DJ is like a predator at the table - whoever looks him in the eye will pay a dear price.
3. Vomit on the table
Vomiting is embarrassing most of the time, but when you are drinking with Chinese, to drink until you vomit is a valuable virtue. When a man throws up at the drinking table, his friends adore him, his boss values him, and the girl whom he vomits on falls in love with him.
4. Don't forget to Chui Niu Bi
The easiest way to infiltrate into a Chinese group is to get drunk and enjoy Chui Niu Bi (in English it means bragging) together. However there are exquisite rules for what you brag about and it can be dangerous if you bring up the wrong topic. You may brag about how many people you've beaten up if you're in the northeast, but what helps blowing up the Niu Bi in the south may be how much you make from stocks. However, a universal topic for Chinese is politics and the government - everyone agrees it's the best!
Now is the time for the Chinese version to shoot back. Somethings are exactly the opposite.
1. To beer or not to beer, that is the question!
Of course, the answer is beer. Whether you stroll down the Fifth Avenue in New York City or the Main Street in Madison County in corn country, you can instantly tell what Americans drink and how many six-packs they gobble up a week by paying just a little bit attention to their belly! That is a distinctly American symbol found in no other place around the world!
2. Well, that is what the founding fathers do!
Although America is a country proclaimed to be founded by Puritans, their drink habit is not that pure after all. Americans of the colonial age used to drink twice as much as people today. Do you know what George Washington did after his presidency? He ran backyard distillery! Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and many more political celebrities in history were known for their brewery skill. The legacy still carries on today to the extent that there is a successful line of beer products from Boston named after the great statesman Samuel Adams. Oh, how can I forget to mention JFK, who is from a bootlegging family!
3. Don't forget to Chui Niu Bi!
Unlike Chinese, politics is off limit. The American version of Cui Niu Bi is sports. Basketball, baseball, football, it doesn’t matter. I guess to most Americans, a pack of Budweiser while watching Monday night football with buddies is better than Monday night sex! If one implants the drunk-driving law in China to America, I would say half of the population there would be in jail. Do you know they openly sell beer in baseball stadiums? Would you expect people walk home after an orgy of home-runs?
4. What goes with beer?
Pizza! Whether you are a sports fan watching TV or a lonely nerdy programmer cracking the code, pizza is the way to go with beer! In China we usually go along with barbecue stuff, as can be evidenced by thousands of beer and barbeque stands on any simmering summer night in Beijing. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, pizza rules!
(John Gong is a professor at the University of International Business and Economics. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.)