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China corruption drive goes after "guzzling" officials

Source: Reuters - Wed, 19 Mar 2014 03:58 GMT
Author: Reuters
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In this 2011 file photo, an attendant prepares for a reception marking the 62nd anniversary of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing REUTERS/Jason Lee
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(Adds comment from anti-graft commission)

SHANGHAI, March 19 (Reuters) - China's officials may need to tighten their belts after authorities ordered official canteens to serve "smaller portions" in a crackdown on over-indulgence, the Xinhua state news agency reported.

The government has been on a drive against official corruption and excess, which has seen gift-giving, banquets and the fiery liquor baijiu come under the spotlight. The aim is to calm public anger over graft and extravagance by some officials.

"Authorities are not allowed to organise banquets or guzzle under the name of convening meetings and training," Xinhua said late on Tuesday, citing a government circular.

Official canteens and cafeteria were asked to provide smaller portions of "simple but healthy" food and put up "save the food" slogans in prominent places, Xinhua said. Special supervisors will ensure officials do not waste food and they will criticize those who do.

China has been facing tight food supplies for a long time but food waste was rampant due to "ostentatious lifestyles and lack of supervision", Xinhua said, citing the circular.

President Xi Jinping urged officials to "sweat" corruption out of the system on Tuesday.

Separately, the ruling Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog said on Wednesday it had set up a department to prevent its graft busters from becoming corrupt.

The department will "prevent 'vermin' from appearing in our ranks, and clean out 'black sheep' promptly", Chen Wenqing, a deputy party chief of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said in an interview on the commission's website. (www.ccdi.gov.cn)

The commission carried out internal restructuring to beef up efficiency in the anti-corruption campaign, a top priority for Xi's leadership to restore public faith in party rule.

"The soil for corruption still exists, and the anti-graft situation remains severe and complicated," Chen said.

"The people pay great attention to the fight against corruption."

The campaign against government excess took major bites out of spending on official meetings, travel and vehicles in 2013, the Communist Party's chief disciplinary body said last week.

The anti-luxury crackdown has been a concern for businesses that supply premium liquor, expensive watches and luxury cars, as well as for high-end hotel chains. (Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Additional reporting by Li Hui and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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