Authorities cracked down hard on a restaurant in Guangxi for trying to sell its customers a dish of giant salamander… at too steep a price.
The restaurant has been fined 500,000 yuan and its business and service licenses have been revoked after a tourist surnamed Wang complained about being charged 5,000 yuan for a 1.65-kg giant salamander.
According to Wang she was taken by a taxi driver to the restaurant, where the waiter recommended he try the giant salamander, without mentioning the price. Only after the animal had been killed did the waiter inform Wang that it would be 3,200 yuan a kilo — though she could get a discount if he didn’t ask for a receipt.
Wang was outraged. “The highest price I have heard people paying for a giant salamander in Guilin was 1,400 yuan per kilo,” she said, according to a Xinhua report.
She then protested to police… who helped him get the price down to a more reasonable 1,500 yuan a kilo.
However, the restaurant has rejected Wang’s account of the events, claiming that the price of the dish was clearly labeled on the menu and Wang had accepted both the weight and price. Additionally, the restaurant manager told Xinhua that their giant salamanders were purchased from a local market at 700 yuan per kilo.
But, police agreed with Wang, punishing the restaurant under China’s Pricing Law — which is apparently a thing that exists and states that restaurants must not overcharge customers. Like billing them for 38 yuan per prawn or 5,000 yuan per endangered fish/giant salamander, for instance
While the fine is nice and all, we think that police may be missing the larger issue here. The giant salamander is a Class II Protected Species in China due to critical endangerment. Once widespread across central, south-western and southern China, they have become increasingly rare because of habitat loss, pollution and (especially) over-hunting. The giant salamander is considered a delicacy in China and it is also used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Late last year, a 1.4-meter-long, 52 kg one was discovered lurking in a cave outside of Chongqing. Honestly, we are a little worried about the little guy now.