It is forbidden in China to take bribes from foreigners.
It may or may not be illegal to take bribes from fellow patriots, but that’s not outlined in this cheerful and prominent community announcement on the streets of Hangzhou.
I don’t speak or read Chinese, but the caricature clearly shows a weiguoren, or foreigner, offering or accepting a bribe; alongside another image appearing to urge Zhongguoren (Chinese people) to steadfastly honour the flag and the fatherland.
Pardon my cynicism, but the image is clearly implying that bribery only occurs in interactions with foreigners, or maybe only during interactions with shady property developers with curly, red hair and big noses.
The poster prompted the following questions:
How common is bribery from foreigners in China?
Are foreigners the root cause of all cases of corruption in China?
Are redheads inherently immoral?
Is corruption an inescapable feature of capitalism, and thus hitherto unheard of during the reign of Mao and Co.?
Was I, as a weiguoren, obliged to offer bribes while in China (even though I don’t have red hair) ? If so, I sincerely apologise to the central government and the Zhongguoren for abiding by fundamental legal and moral principles.
Perhaps the poster is simply an example of the government’s attempts at moulding its citizenry with the powerful tool of patriotism, which runs deep in the veins of the people. After all, China halted the opium laced attempt at colonisation from the English government, which only managed to secure the tiny slither of land known as Hong Kong.
They also refer to their homeland as the middle kingdom (ZhongGuo) and they built a mighty long wall to keep out the marauding mongols – who attempted to destroy China’s social fabric through blood, not bribes.
Just imagine what China would have done if they’d been invaded by the Scots.
P.S. If anyone out there does read Mandarin Chinese, I’d welcome a translation of the text on the posters. Xie Xie!