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Gold mah-jong sets spark online debate
By Ma Chenguang (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-26 05:44

A Chinese manufacturer has made 3,000 mah-jong sets using pure gold.

A set of 148 tiles costs a cool 25,800 yuan (US$3,180), making it affordable to only the most well-heeled mah-jong enthusiasts .

So far, more than 20 sets have been sold in Changchun, capital of Northeast China's Jilin Province, attracting businessmen and government officials, Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

Mah-jong is a solitaire game where a player tries to eliminate all tiles from the mah-jong towers. Traditionally, the game was played with tiles of bone or bamboo.

Most buyers are getting the 24-carat-gold set as a gift for others, the report said. The manufacturers claim it is "China's No 1" set.

Each 148-tile set contains 130 grams of pure gold, the report said, and purchasers must put down a down payment of 10,000 yuan (US$1,230) in cash. The set also comes with gold dice.

The ostentatious set has sparked much debate among the online community. While affirming that people should have the freedom to buy the expensive game, net surfer Leng Dan said he doubted whether the set would be used as a gift to buy favours from policy-makers.

"It is quite problematic for government officials to buy the expensive game," he said at www.Xinhuanet.com.

However, Sima Tong, another online commentator, noted that it is worthwhile examining who is buying the set.

It is interesting that "the buyers seldom use the product themselves," he said.

As there are still many laid-off workers living in difficulty in Changchun, it is detestable to see government officials vying to buy these luxury items, he added.

Cyber surfer Jiu Lianzhang noted the government should investigate who approved production of the 24-carat gold product, as the manufacturer is still under State ownership.

(China Daily 10/26/2005 page3)

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