A company in central China has stirred controversy by piling up a mountain of 61 million yuan (US$9 million) in banknotes on a stage before handing out the cash in year-end bonuses. According to media reports, a crane manufacturer based in Henan province, posted videos on social media on January 17 showing the stacks of cash piled two metres high at the company’s annual party which went viral. The three best-performing sales managers from the firm – Henan Mine –received the top award of five million yuan (US$737,000) each, while more than 30 others were awarded at least one million yuan, the Jiemian News reported, quoting an unnamed manager from the company’s public relations department. “We held a sales year-end meeting on the night of January 17, giving 61 million yuan in total to 40 sales managers,” the person said. There was also a money counting competition in which members of staff were offered the number of 100-yuan bills they could count within a designated period of time, he said. The company splashed out an eye-popping 12 million yuan in this competition alone, where the fastest note counter received 157,000 yuan. According to several video clips widely circulating online, the money was bound up into bricks of 100,000 yuan. A group of men wearing black suits and red scarves can be seen carrying armfuls of cash from the stage. The top prizes were so heavy that several people were required to carry them. The cash award spree has triggered a huge amount of interest on social media, with some online observers expressing envy and others calling it a publicity stunt. “I don’t even dare to dream about such a scene,” one person posted on Weibo. “I can’t understand. They bothered to get all the cash from the bank and count it to give out, and the recipients then need to carry it back to the bank to deposit it. I don’t like such a corporate culture,” another said. Despite bleak official figures for the Chinese economy in the past year, Henan Mine, which was founded in 2002 and has more than 5,100 employees, recorded sales revenues of 9.16 billion yuan (US$1.36 billion) in 2022, up by 23 per cent compared with the previous year, according to its official website. There were no lay-offs from the firm over the past three years despite China’s imposition of strict Covid-19 restrictions. The average salary of company staff has grown by 30 per cent each year, it said.