Lecturer in Chinese discusses tipping culture with the BBC

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Dr Lingzhi (Liz) Gu, Lecturer in Chinese from the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at University of Liverpool, was invited to speak on the BBC programme The Food Chain on the absence of tipping culture in China and generally in Asia, and if possible, to explore the reasons behind it. 

In a few rounds of interviews, Dr Gu explained that tipping did exist in imperial and early republican China. However, it disappeared following the founding of the People's Republic of China and the setup of a centrally planned economy in the 1950s where all the restaurants, hotels and service industries were nationalised whilst the working class and highly-skilled workers shared a similar pay structure.

Although many businesses were privatised in China's economic reform in the 1990s, the income gap between the working class and highly-skilled workers remains too small for tipping to come back to ordinary restaurants, despite the fact that tipping does exist in those luxury bars and hotels in China today. 

Some experts and members of the general public working in the USA and China were also interviewed by BBC in this programme. Dr Gu said:

"I would like to thank BBC staff for their dedication to these fantastic programmes on Chinese/East Asian cultures."

Find out more

Listen to the episode of The Food Chain on BBC Sounds.