Going Dutch in China

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Shaanxi,
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I don't like the term 'going Dutch'. But it is an international by-word for splitting the bill.

In China, instead of dividing up the bill, there's a fight to pay the bill for everyone. Why?

Whoever hosts and pays accumulating favour with the others - so if you aren't the one paying you are indebted to the other person. They can call in a favour at any time, either directly or indirectly. It is also saving face, showing that you have enough money to pay for everyone.

There are horror stories of visitors - both foreigners and Chinese - being taken into bars and cafes in Shanghai, by young women for a drink.

The girls order the most expensive drinks - all the drinks are massively overpriced - but more often than not the guy (it is always a guy victim) has to pay - or at least negotiate his way out of the scam to avoid being beaten up.

So this week's story is about a couple who have split the bill for the past 37 years - they attribute the practice to their long-lasting harmonious relationship.

"We never quarreled about money," said Dong, the now 52-year-old wife, from Beibei, Chongqing municipality.

"It keeps our love fresh."

Although they mostly stick to paying fifty-fifty, the sweethearts are always willing to help each other out when needed.

Both Dong and her husband were factory workers, but thanks to their "go-Dutch policy", have made a happy life from meager incomes.

Experts say, if used in a good way, their policy will help couples respect each other rather than materialize their relationships.
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