Ethics of Gift-Giving in the USA and China

The legal codes of the USA and China contain rules related to gift-giving that define this process. The former states that the only cases in the public sector when gifts can be accepted are if they are useful for the government and not given by prohibited organizations (The United States Office of Government Ethics, 2000). Meanwhile, a cup of coffee cannot be considered such, whereas a lunch valued at more than $20 is already taboo (The United States Office of Government Ethics, 2000). China also restricts monetary contributions since only incidental gifts are acceptable (Szto, 2016). The only regulation here is the fact that they should be either reported or rejected (Szto, 2016). In this way, these two countries intend to address the problem of corruption (“Research,” n.d.). However, this situation is also explained by specific factors.

One of the most critical considerations is the impact of the two countries’ cultures, which defines the existing gift-giving practices. Thus, in the United States, it is more individualistic than in China, and it adds to the necessity to create a sense of responsibility so that people could act accordingly (The United States Office of Government Ethics, 2000). In turn, Chinese history demonstrates widespread corruption, and it requires them to report their actions in contrast to the relative freedom of the USA in this aspect (Szto, 2016). Therefore, when cooperating, they might face conflicts regarding the acceptance of gifts.

In this case, it implies a clash of interests and standard practices. The best method to cope with them is to consult with the generic ethics code, according to which all actions should serve the public interests, be fair and transparent, and correspond to the current legislation (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2005). In this way, the officials and businessmen will know which situations to avoid and what to do if a problem arises. As for personal conduct, it should be guided by countries’ traditions rather than laws.

References

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2005). Managing conflict of interest in the public sector.

Research. (n.d.). Transparency International.

Szto, M. (2016). Chinese gift-giving, anti-corruption law, and the rule of law and virtue. Fordham International Law Journal, 39(3), 591-628.

The United States Office of Government Ethics. (2000). An ethics pamphlet for executive branch employees.

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