We in China all rely on guanxi to get by every now and then. So imagine Shanghaiist’s panic last week when the SMS version of Guanxi left us hanging. What the hell are we talking about? Since around May 2003, if you wanted to know the location or phone number of a restaurant, bar, art gallery — almost anything — in Shanghai, all you needed to do was send a text message containing all or part of the place’s name to 885074. Seconds later, the info would arrive on your mobile phone. If you wanted the information in Chinese, all you had to do was reply with a “C,” and like magic you had what you needed. It was a great idea. No more having to lug around one of those English-language city magazines.
We’re not exactly sure when Guanxi went black. We first noticed it last week. Imagine our dismay when we typed in “Hooters” and received no reply. We were forced to actually interact with other human beings to find out where the girls in tight orange shorts worked. The horror. So, we were delighted when, early this morning, a random SMS appeared on our phone, informing us: “Guanxi’s new no. 85880. Fwd this msg to 20 Friends & YOU GOT GUANXI FREE for a month now in BJ&SH faster&more reliable than ever. We’re Back!” And now we are bracing for a shit storm of text messages from friends and acquaintances trying to get their free month.
We’ve never been completely sure about how much each Guanxi message costs us. This story from two years ago says “as little as two jiao.” We’ve never noticed the service taxing our phone balance too severely. We’re also not sure who is behind the new Guanxi. Is it the same people as before? And, since we’re posting Guanxi’s new number on our site, does that mean Shanghaiist gets free Guanxi for a year?
Just wondering. See you at Hooters!
UPDATE: Guanxi contacted us and said the link we provided is “old old old.” Here is the current one.