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UPDATED: January 29, 2014 NO.6 FEBRUARY 6, 2014
Practicing Frugality
Chinese authorities remain determined in their fight against extravagance
By Yin Pumin

NO ACCESS: Yushantang, a luxury club in Beijing's Beihai Park, suspends business on January 15, after the local government ordered the closure of all private clubs and high-end entertainment venues in public parks (LUO XIAOGUANG)

According to a recent survey conducted by The Beijing News among 100 government officials across China, 92 percent said that their non-salary income had declined in 2013 and more than 80 percent of them reported a drop in attendance at dinners covered by public funds.

While many job hunters in the country consider civil service a "golden rice bowl," 93 percent of the respondents said that "benefits from such a job may no longer be what many people have expected."

This gap between perception and reality largely results from the ongoing anti-extravagance campaign that is being carried out nationwide.

In December 2012, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee issued explicit requirements on how Party members should improve their working practices in eight areas so as to get rid of excessive red tape, extravagance and corruption.

To further support their efforts, the Party initiated a "mass line" education campaign in June 2013, with the aim of strengthening ties between the people and the Party, while weeding out undesirable work practices such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.

After the campaign was launched, the CPC issued a series of detailed policies aiming to regulate the use of public funds and officials' personal behavior in various fields.

In a conference on plans for the second phase of the "mass line" education campaign on January 20, President Xi Jinping, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, urged the Party to show tenacity in promoting frugality and curbing extravagance.

Ren Jianming, Director of Beihang University's Clean Governance Research and Education Center, said that continuous action undertaken by the central authorities during the past year or so have revealed the top leadership's determination to fight extravagance. "As signs indicate, the campaign will go even deeper in 2014," he said.


According to figures released by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Party's top anti-graft body, a total of 30,420 Party officials and government functionaries were punished for violating anti-extravagance rules in 2013. The violations included using government cars for personal purposes, abusing public funds for travel or entertainment, and holding extravagant weddings or other ceremonies.

In the latest move to cut off the various "grey benefits" available to some officials, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, China's cabinet, issued a circular on December 29 last year, banning the purchase of cigarettes with public funds.

In a Xinhua News Agency report on the ban, it was revealed that an official in Hequ County, north China's Shanxi Province, spent more than 60,000 yuan ($9,920) in public funds to buy over 150 cartons of cigarettes to give officials who participated in a meeting.

"The high smoking rate among government officials has something to do with corruption because many of the cigarettes they get have been offered as gifts," said Yang Gonghuan, a professor at Peking Union Medical College.

The smoking ban is one of the follow-up measures to regulations issued by the central authorities in late November last year to standardize fund management and ban Party and government extravagance.

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