As I understand it, Soju in Korea and Shochu in Japan both derive from this historically, and in turn shaojiu derives from simple grain distillation that came from Mesopotamia.
Maybe it's because we could only afford the cheap stuff — but any baijiu we got our hands on was really, really nasty. Only palatable with a 1:25 Sprite solution.
"Baijiu is the world’s most popular spirit, with 10bn litres sold each year, almost entirely in China. The second most popular spirit in the world is vodka, with just 5bn litres sold."
I think this comes as quite a surprise to many people in the west.