by Xinhua writers Hu Tao and Yuan Ruting
Gold mooncakes made their debut in the gift sector ahead of China's back-to-back autumn holiday but suspicions of corruption have been raised.
Made of pure gold, the mooncake-shaped artifact witnessed good sales on the eve of China's traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival.
"Most of the buyers are groups of clients of companies and enterprises who have bought gold mooncakes as a gift," said a shop assistant in a department store in Xuanwumen in downtown Beijing on Friday.
One of the most favored gift box consists of two pieces, which weigh 50 grams each. The price is 42,900 yuan (6,821 U.S. dollars), equalling to 429 yuan per gram. The price of standard metal bars is around 360 yuan.
There are also other choices of mooncakes with various weights of gold or silver.
In some stores, gold and silver mooncake giftboxes sold out on the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays running from Sept. 30-Oct. 7.
Mooncakes are an essential part of China's Mid-Autumn Festival as a holiday about family reunion and cakes are a common gift between family and friends.
However, many netizens on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service, and web-sharing site Youku, condemned golden mooncakes, as a form of corruption.
"Who will put gold mooncakes on the dining table? It is just to hide corruption," said a netizen Lantianbaiyun3215 on Sina Weibo.
"The government authorities should take it as a clue in fighting corruption to trace both the buyers and the receivers," said a netizen named Zhaijianhui.
Amid the global economic downturn, gold is cherished more for its increasing value as an asset as it is unlikely it will be affected by inflation, said Wu Zhengzheng, a precious metal analyst in the Chihong International Co., Ltd.
Gold mooncakes enrich the holiday gift market, of course, with more additional costs such as the processing fees compared to investment of standard gold bars, Wu said.
The sale of gold mooncakes is not the only case of high-price gifts, which have triggered public concerns.
Silver-made rice dumplings in the Dragon Boat Festival in June, and high-end West Lake longjing green tea have both aroused public concerns.
China's domestic gift market is estimated to reach more than 760 billion yuan annually, in which over 262 billion yuan is consumed by group clients, said a survey conducted by China Gift Industry Research Institute.
The country has historically attached great importance to personal relations, but high-valued gold mooncakes are out of the reach of many people, said Xia Xueluan, a Peking University sociologist.
There is an urgent need for government authorities to be alert on this disguised new form of corruption, and strengthen anti-corruption measures, said Xia.
To eliminate corruption, the government must be strict in law enforcement, and strike the high-valued gift market, said Xia.