Ridicu­lous act of a restau­rant

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

Dur­ing his re­cent trip to China, Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron vis­ited a restau­rant in Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince, to taste some of its dishes. Now the restau­rant is try­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on his visit to make some quick bucks; it is even “of­fer­ing” a set meal of all the items that Cameron had for 888 yuan ($146.26). The prac­tice of restau­rants, or other out­lets, us­ing a VIP’s visit to boost their sales is noth­ing new, but it seems the Chengdu restau­rant has crossed the eth­i­cal line this time, says an ar­ti­cle in Bei­jing Morn­ing Post. Ex­cerpts:

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter and his en­tourage spent a to­tal of 877 yuan for the hotpot din­ner, which was not at all ex­pen­sive com­pared with the huge amounts that rich peo­ple and some gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials pay for lav­ish din­ners nowa­days. But spend­ing even 877 yuan on a din­ner is be­yond the imag­i­na­tion of many peo­ple in China, be­cause that would be al­most half of their monthly salary.

As if the 888 yuan it is charg­ing for the “Cameron-style” set meal is not enough of a money spin­ner, the restau­rant is also de­mand­ing that cus­tomers pay an ex­tra 1,000 yuan as ser­vice charge if they want to be served by the wait­ress who at­tended to the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter and his party. Ne­ti­zens have rightly termed this charge ridicu­lous.

If we tend to look be­low the sur­face, we’ll find that the restau­rant is try­ing to ap­peal to the van­ity of wealthy peo­ple and cor­rupt of­fi­cials, be­cause only they can af­ford to pay such a lu­di­crous amount for just one meal. In a way, the restau­rant is giv­ing them the chance to flaunt their ill-got­ten wealth.

An or­di­nary cit­i­zen can­not af­ford to pay 888 yuan for the “Cameron combo meal” plus a 1,000-yuan ser­vice fee to hear “how the UK prime min­is­ter had his Chi­nese meal”. Only din­ers who en­joy a din­ner at the cost of oth­ers will think of pay­ing for the ser­vice that a prime min­is­ter and his en­tourage re­ceived.

What the restau­rant is do­ing is pro­mot­ing an un­healthy prac­tice, which is sick­en­ing to say the least. At best, it is pop­u­lar­iz­ing celebrity wor­ship and at worst, it is prompt­ing peo­ple to spend a ridicu­lous amount just to de­rive some vane sat­is­fac­tion, and both are con­demnable acts.

Our so­ci­ety seems to be caught in a grip of su­per­fi­cial­ity, where goods and ser­vices are judged not by their true need and util­ity, but by their ap­pear­ance and ap­par­ent use­ful­ness. This in no way is what China, a coun­try with thou­sands of years of civ­i­liza­tion, needs.

What Chi­nese out­lets and or­ga­ni­za­tions should do is to use VIPs’ visit and spe­cial events to mean­ing­fully pro­mote Chi­nese cui­sine by let­ting con­sumers know the nutritional and other ben­e­fits of Chi­nese dishes. This would be the best way to pop­u­lar­ize Chi­nese dishes across the world.

The opin­ions ex­pressed on this page do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect those of China Daily USA.

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