Xinhua News Agency

Gambling warning for Lunar New Year

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 January, 2005, 12:00am

Cadres have been reminded by disciplinary authorities not to take part in 'extravagance of any type' - particularly gambling - during the Lunar New Year holidays next month.

Party officials involved in any kind of gambling would be sacked, while those who gambled abroad would face tougher punishment, Xinhua reported.

The announcement indicates that the central government's perennial crackdown on corruption has taken on a fresh direction.

'Gambling provides an easy way into taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of state assets, and has become the new battleground of China's fight against corruption,' the Xinhua report said.

The warning was issued last week by the Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission and the Ministry of Supervision.

A range of government officials have been placed under investigation or sentenced to lengthy prison terms during the past year for gambling millions in public funds.

The latest case was exposed as the Lunar New Year warning was issued. Zhang Fanren , a mid-level official from the Ministry of Public Security, reportedly falsified documents for public works projects and embezzled more than 2 million yuan to pay soccer gambling debts.

Disciplinary authorities are still searching for Cai Haowen, former head of traffic and transport management in the Jilin city of Yanbian, who disappeared in November after allegedly gambling away more than 3.5 million yuan in public funds during 27 trips to a North Korean casino last year.

North Korea has become a hotbed of gambling for mainland tourists - about 30 per cent of whom are party officials - who are losing hundreds of millions of yuan each year at the Hong Kong-built Emperor Hotel and Casino, state media says.

But Macau remains the most popular destination for gambling officials. In another high-profile case last year, Chongqing propaganda official Zhang Xiaochuan was fired and placed under house arrest after allegedly losing more than 100 million yuan in public funds in a Macau casino.

In December, an intermediate court in Zhongshan , Guangdong province, sentenced Chen Manxiong and wife Chen Qiuyuan - former managers of a government-owned enterprise - to life and 14 years in jail respectively for embezzling 420 million yuan from the Bank of China to pay their Macau gambling debts.