Social concept
Goudui refers to a practice among private entrepreneurs ‘to thicken’ the relationship with the state. Goudui originally referred to the making of liquor by mingling water with alcohol, and overlaps with the phrase gouqian—to add corn starch to thicken a soup. Goudui consists of a set of habitual and systematic activities initiated by private entrepreneurs to cultivate and please state officials and transform the relationship into a strategically cosy and congenial one. Activities include gift-giving, banqueting and a variety of night-life entertainment (karaoke, dancing, sauna, foot washing, massage) which often lead to erotic or sexual services paid for by the entrepreneurs. In terms of making connections, goudui is therefore similar to Guanxi, but it refers to a specific connection (between the state and private enterprises) and more often involves prostitution.
It emerged in the reform period and flourished in the consumer culture of the 1990s. It is also commonly practised among business partners. On the surface, the purpose of goudui is to gain favours from the state in order to benefit one’s business, but the politics of goudui also feature psychological manoeuvring on the part of the entrepreneur to win the state’s recognition of self-worth and of the novel and important role of the growing private sector after socialism. This male power play between state officials and entrepreneurs through the involvement of female bodies (prostitution) and the exclusion of women from equal participation reveals a male-centred construction of masculinity.
Zhang, Everett (2001). ‘Goudui and the State: Constructing Entrepreneurial Masculinity in Two Cosmopolitan Areas of Post-Socialist China’. In D.Hodgson (ed.), Gendered Modernities: Ethnographic Perspectives. New York: Palgrave. 235–65.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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