Sorry seems to be the hardest word, crooned Elton John. In China it’s a literal truth. In a society so averse to losing face many Chinese find it unpalatable to utter the term duibuqi. So it was intriguing that the Xinghai Hotel should take out an ad in the Ruian Daily to apologise to local government officials. The hotel said it was “deeply sorry” that its staff “failed to actively cooperate” when city officials from Ruian had visited on the evening of June 4.
The background? According to the Southern Metropolis Daily, the most popular theory among netizens was that bureaucrats were piqued that they hadn’t been offered a free banquet as part of their zhidao gongzuo (a term that translates as ‘on-site guidance inspection’). In revenge, they ordered that the hotel be shut down. However, this version of events has since been discredited. Ruian government office director Shi Juyao says the closure of the hotel was in response to repeated complaints from local residents about noise from its karaoke rooms, which the hotel ignored. After the internet furore, Shi says he considers the Xinghai Hotel’s apology to be “insincere” and misleading. He has ordered it to publish another (more accurate) one acknowledging its error.
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