Beijing has ratcheted up its campaign against waste and extravagant spending by government officials ahead of the annual parliamentary sessions next week, ordering luxurious dishes to be dropped from the menu and bottled water to be tagged with the names of delegates, the Beijing Times reported yesterday.
A senior staff member at the Beijing International Hotel, where some meetings will be held, told the paper that tea ladies would not be serving delegates.
Instead, they had been asked by the authorities to distribute bottled water marked with delegates' names and not to give them a second bottle unless they have finished the first.
In the past, unfinished bottles were dumped after the meeting, the paper reported.
A source told the South China Morning Post the National People's Congress rolled out guidelines earlier this year to control costs, streamline bureaucracy, cut waste and curb extravagance during sessions.
The guidelines did not give detailed instructions on bottled water.
Other officials and catering staff, however, seemed to be in the dark about the reported restrictions. A staff member at the state-owned Guo Er Zhao Hotel in the Haidian district of the capital said they had not received instructions on how to serve bottled water.
"Some hotels may come up with their own detailed measures to tackle wastefulness to comply with the official guidelines," she said. "Real-name registration system for bottled water" was a top tagline on Sina Weibo yesterday, prompting more than 20,000 searches.
The news reminded some internet users of Premier Li Keqiang's first press conference in March last year in Beijing.
After Li left the room, several reporters rushed to the stage to grab leftovers as souvenirs, including Li's unfinished bottle of water.
The National People's Congress issued 15 guidelines last year to reduce spending.
These included bans on souvenirs, reception ceremonies and gourmet meals. The guidelines followed the "eight rules" against extravagance promoted by President Xi Jinping .