The surprising expatriate practices in China story has not ended yet. The general manager of the hotel wanted to find out what exactly was holding me back in signing the contract. We spoke over the phone today.
I was even more surprised to find out that all the 20 odd expatriates including himself are in the same boat. They are all "buying" or "manipulating" official receipts in order to maxmize their housing allowance. The general manager explained that it was very reasonable to produce receipts for reimbursement and that it was a local practice. In a nutshell, the general manager was wondering why this was a deciding factor for me not to accept employment from them.
I think he missed the point here. It's reasonable to produce official receipts for reimbursement, but not reasonable to produce fake receipts for the purpose of maximizing personal gains at the expense of the owners or shareholders, regardless of what the local practices may be.
Integrity and honesty are some qualities most multinational organizations value and require of their managers. If the top management doesn't have these qualities, it's hard to expect other employees to uphold these values. I stand firm on my decision of not accepting employment from this hotel.