Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Crackdown ends China's party perks

Whether you're fond of an elegant white wine, a casual, neutral style, or something as sharp as a whistle, summertime always signals bright, young things to sip in the sunshine

Lavish weddings, fancy holidays and lunchtime wine on the public purse were among corrupt perks that have led China's ruling Communist Party to discipline 2,290 officials so far in a crackdown aimed at addressing public anger.

The party's disciplinary arm, quoted in official state media, provided eight examples of such breaches, including a party chief in a township in Hebei who was stripped of his post for holding an extravagant wedding for his daughter and receiving around 1 million yuan (£100,000) in cash and gifts.

Party officials, led by President Xi Jinping, hail their efforts to eradicate extravagance among cadres as evidence that they are serious about cracking down on the graft that plagues them at every level. But while it might seem as though many officials have been admonished this year as part of the campaign, the number is only a small drop in China's ocean of 85 million party members.

Official reports have also not indicated the seniority of the officials who were being punished, though most of the examples listed appeared to be mid- and low-level cadres. Mr Xi has promised to target even high-level officials, who are usually seen as enjoying special protections that come with ties to the politically powerful.

The 2,290 officials cited were punished for violating new guidelines aimed at curbing waste, the official Xinhua News Agency cited Xu Chuanzhi, a party official, as saying. Examples cited in Xinhua's report paint a picture of the privileges enjoyed by many government officials throughout China that are a source of public resentment.

A community leader in the central city of Wuhan who led 10 staff on a holiday paid for by government funds was given a serious warning while staff were ordered to refund the cost of their trip.

In central Hunan, the head of the provincial-level judicial bureau was handed a warning for hosting a massive wedding banquet for his son while 10 officials who misused police cars as part of the celebrations were also admonished.

The party issued a "serious disciplinary warning" to the party chief of Gongzhuling, a north eastern city, for drinking wine at a weekday lunch.

The campaign comes as more individuals have stepped forward to publicly accuse senior officials of wrongdoing. The allegations - publicised mainly on microblogs but carried by Chinese media - test the new leadership's resolve to fight graft at the highest levels.

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