President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign is turning to the grave, with authorities drawing up plans to punish dead Communist Party of China (CPC) members whose funerals violate regulations.
New diktats issued by the government say CPC members, including those who are dead, will be punished if they violate the latest regulations on funerals, including buying lavish tombs to bury the deceased.
The new rules include a ban on “unapproved burials” and the “purchase of oversized tombs”, and CPC members are being urged to opt for “environmentally friendly funerals”.
The new guidelines issued on Wednesday do not give details on how the dead, or the living, will be punished but clearly Xi’s determined effort to combat graft is going where no man has gone before.
The civil affairs, science and technology and finance ministries are among the nine departments that issued the new regulations.
The rules define environment friendly funerals as “sea burials, burial or scattering of ashes at the bases of trees, and storage of ashes remains in boxes or urns”.
“Party members are also urged to exhort close family members and colleagues to follow the guidelines. Those who violate funeral rules – including deceased Party members – will be corrected and punished,” an unnamed official from the civil affairs ministry said in a statement.
“Many graves for officials are several times larger than the national standard of no more than one square meter. Plus, many have luxury decorations, and in some cases, a luxurious grave can serve as a bribe,” Yang Genlai, a funeral management expert with Beijing Social Administration Vocational College, told state media.
The Beijing News gave a particularly startling example of a lavish grave even the pharaohs would have been proud of.
“Ji Jianye – a former mayor of Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu Province, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption – once bought a 150 square meter grave for 500,000 yuan ($76,550), less than the market price,” the Beijing News reported.
It added the crackdown might be easier said than done.
Quoting an employee of a cemetery at Taiyuan in northern Shanxi Province, it said “…some officials purchased luxury tombs but did not carve their names on the tombstones for fear of being known publicly”.
In 2013, the State Council, China’s cabinet, banned officials and CPC members from holding lavish funerals to collect money as is the custom.