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Frugality drive: China ruling elite asked to stay away from clubs

world Updated: Dec 24, 2013 15:12 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
communist party of china

After banning exotic foods at official banquets and lavish funerals for officials, the Communist Party of China (CPC), seemingly driven by a missionary zeal against corruption, has now targeted what it perceives to be decadent fun.

A new circular issued by the ruling CPC has ordered officials to stay away from posh clubs, which it now sees as dens of vices where corrupt deals are struck in exchange for money and sex.

Those who violate the directive have been promised swift and severe penalties.

“Some CPC officials frequented private clubs, enjoying themselves with feasting and other entertainment, some even engaging in power-for-money or power-for-sex deals,” the state media said quoting a circular made public on Monday.

High-end clubs are the latest target of the CPC this year to cut extravagance.

Earlier, it had banned expensive flower arrangements in meeting rooms, expensive liquor and delicacies such as shark fin in official banquets and exchange of luxurious gifts during festivals.

Last week, officials were asked to set examples through frugal funerals.

The official news agency, Xinhua, carried a report on the new circular under the headline: “CPC anti-decadence campaign hammers clubbing”.

The CPC’s powerful discipline watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said the practice of clubbing by officials was having a negative effect on the party.

These practices have a “serious negative effect on Party and political work styles and social ethos,” said the CCDI.

The CCDI is also the steering group of the CPC's “mass line” campaign, which refers to the guideline under which CPC officials and members are required to prioritise the interests of the people and persist in representing them and working on their behalf.

The campaign was launched in June, according to the state media, to bridge gaps between CPC officials and members, and the general public, while cleaning up undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.

The campaign merged seamlessly with President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption bugle call, the banning of officials from accepting club membership is part of which as well.

Cities like Beijing and Shanghai are dotted with private and exclusive clubs that restrict entry and are often just discreet buildings surrounded by high walls. Sometimes, the giveaway is the parking lot where expensive cars are seen lined up.

The circular noted that public anger was rising against private clubs, which are often illicitly built with public resources, sometimes in historical buildings or parks, and frequented by the powerful and rich.

“Such clubs are illegally established and operated, disregard the public interest and are hotbeds of extravagance and corruption,” according to the circular.

The circular asks for enhanced supervision and targeted measures in the fight against “unhealthy practices in clubs” to be incorporated into the “mass line” campaign.