China's graft-busters tighten regulations on cadres' banquets

Some regional authorities are developing strict rules for Communist Party cadres to follow when eating out

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2015, 9:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2015, 9:00am

Three years into Beijing’s relentless anti-corruption campaign and ever-more complex regulations are being dreamt up by various levels of government.

Some feel that the ban on luxury banquets, a favourite target for Communist Party graft-busters due to their long association with China’s social scene, is not effective – nor specific – enough.

Luxury banquets are one of the behaviours banned by the “eight rules”, but recently, graft-busters from Henan, Hangzhou, Jilin and Kunming went a step further and released restrictions detailing even where and how cadres could eat.

On Monday, the top graft-busting agency the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, released the April statistics for violations of the “eight rules”.

Spending public money on banquets and organising lavish weddings and showy funerals remained the two biggest  problems, alongside the misuse of public cars.

In April alone, 2,508 cases featuring banquets were investigated – bringing the total for 2015 to 7,595 cases.

The anti-corruption agency in Hangzhou told cadres to ask themselves three questions before attending any banquet: ‘Who will pay?’, ‘Who will be there?’ and ‘Where should I eat?’.

Private clubs and luxury restaurants are banned as destinations and cadres are told to reject any invitation to a social dinner that might indicate they are forming a small social circle.

In Jilin, the restriction is even more detailed. Authorities have listed 20 kinds of banquets that cadres cannot go to, including meals with supervisors, meals paid for by companies, business trips, and so on.

Li Yunhai, an official at Kunming’s Jinning County told state media that, though there had not been any official correspondence on banning banquets outright, graft-busters had long kept a close eye on such functions.

“Last year, we did 20 rounds of inspections. This year by May, we have done six,” said Li.

He said the number of people at the banquet, the type of food served, the location, and price were all important factors for graft-busters in judging whether officials had overstepped the mark.

Li said that cadres in Jinning were not allowed to attend any banquet, apart from at weddings or funerals. Even then they should report to anti-graft agencies 10 days in advance and make sure no colleagues would be attending.