CHINA: A Taste for the Take

A Taste of the Take

Bribery is in the bud among officials

At the Canton Trade Fair, the bustling twice-annual bazaar for China's international commerce, a Chinese official approached a visiting European businessman with a delicate but unmistakable proposition: favored business dealings, in return for the gift of a particularly desirable stereo hi-fi system. In Tianjin (Tientsin), a factory received a special shipment from an overseas Chinese merchant with whom it regularly deals: a free new automobile. In Peking, officials of a trading corporation asked another foreigner for a specified gift, an expensive Nikon camera.

Until a few months ago, that kind...

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