Chinese people often use “Guanxi” when doing business with other people. “Guanxi” refers to interpersonal relationships, connections or social networks. It also derives concepts such as business meals and social circles. Whether people can enter a specific social network is considered the key to success. These people’s goal is to get close to those who have many political, economic, and social prestige resources. Then, they can share those resources and benefit from the relationship.
Rui Chenggang, who was highly praised by many politicians, was recently released from prison. Six years ago, he and his supervisor — Guo Zhenxi, director of CCTV’s Financial Channel —were involved in a bribery case. Since then, he disappeared from the public’s sight. As a well-known CCTV host, Rui Chenggang had over 10.35 million followers on Sina Weibo. When compared with other CCTV hosts, he had the largest number of fans at that time.
On the other hand, he was good at marketing himself. Rui would do a lot of preparations before the appointments with other politicians. He also posted the actives he had with them on Weibo, including having breakfast with Bill Gates, attending Clinton’s private party, etc. His good relationship with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Michael Rudd was also well-known by the general public. Besides, those famous people he interviewed spoke very highly of him. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti once said: “ It is a very pleasant thing to be interviewed by a heavyweight reporter like Rui Chenggang.” The publisher printed all these comments on the back cover of Rui Chenggang’s book “Something for Nothing”.
Rui Chenggang was put behind bars in 2014. Rumors said that the reason he ended up there was his connections. Rui Chenggang liked to use his connections to show off his status. There is a Chinese slang saying that one more friend is one more way. Rui Chenggang spent tons of time dealing with his interpersonal relations. He also utilized various social platforms to show off his extensive social network, such as his good relationship with some famous politicians. It can be said that this has assisted in his success. This kind of phenomenon is quite common. For example, Chinese Micro-business owners taking pictures with Obama was quite a hit several years ago. After his resignation, Obama was invited to the third SME Summit in 2017. The organizer arranged a group photo session at the end of the Summit. A single group photo would cost as much as 250,000 to 300,000 yuan. It was more like fan meetings instead of an official photo session. In the eyes of those who do not know the truth, they may think that these participants have made a fortune through Micro-businesses and they appeared in the same photo as Obama because of it.
In China, it is very rare for people to contact celebrities or politicians, not to mention taking pictures with them. If someone has a relative or a friend that had the pleasure to meet with them, it can be used as something to brag about. This unique way of marketing has become a means to demonstrate one’s status or achievement in a certain field. For example, a restaurant manager will hang a photo of a politician who has been to this restaurant to reflect its deliciousness.
In Western society, relationships and social networks also play significant roles. It is called Social-Networking in North America. Essentially, there are no differences between Chinese-style “Guanxi” and western-styled social-networking in North America. Their main goal lies in the exchange of benefits between two or more parties. Far from earning admiration, showing off relationships with politicians attracts scrutiny from both the public and opposition parties.
Not so long ago, the WE Charity Scandal was a typical bad example of Social-Networking. WE Charity is an active Canadian charity organization, founded in 1995 by the Kielburger brothers, Craig and Marc Kielburger. The two brothers have close relationships with the Trudeau family. Prime minister Trudeau’s wife Sophie Trudeau, his mother Margaret Trudeau and his brother Alexander Trudeau all gave speeches for the WE Charity before. As Canada’s prime minister, his frequent interactions with charity organizations did evoke bad reveries of other people. Apart from the Trudeau family’s “paid speech”, WE Charity was awarded a federal contract of more than 900 million Canadian dollars. Many people in the opposition party believed that Trudeau was using political power for personal gain.