Tipping wait staff for food, hotels, taxis or other service-based industries isn’t the norm in China.

While it is widely believed that Chinese consumers are generally unwilling to participate in the tipping culture, a wealth of online ‘tip’ services shows otherwise. In fact Chinese netizens commonly tip on a range of online services from literary works to live-streamed performances.

Tipping online is called ‘da shang'(打赏), or ‘shang’ (赏) for short, a practice in ancient China that the upper class rewarded people with a lower social status. Da shang oftentimes happened during performances, when audiences would give gifts or cash to performers who belonged to one of the lowest social classes back then. In those days some types of performances, especially those performed on the street, didn’t charge admission but relied solely on tips voluntarily left by audiences.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com