China to crack down on official partying

CHINA is expected to announce a crackdown on lavish parties and seminars organised by officials in the coming year in the latest effort to curb corruption seen as undermining the government.

China’s ruling party met yesterday to address excessive spending on official functions as well as public money spent on cars for officials, the China Daily newspaper reported.

Communist Party officials were to hold a news conference later on Wednesday to release a paper on efforts to fight corruption in 2011.

While bringing vast improvements in quality of life for most Chinese, economic growth has also brought massive corruption and a widening rich-poor gap.

Ordinary Chinese frequently complain about the misuse of government money for elaborate banquets and sightseeing trips attended only by bureaucrats, and the Communist leadership have frequently said graft is a major threat to political stability.

In recent years, China has launched numerous anti-graft campaigns. One of the biggest scandals involved the powerful party boss of Shanghai, Chen Liangyu, who was sentenced in 2008 to 18 years in prison for his role in a pension fund scandal.

Since last year, a crackdown on corruption in the southwestern city of Chongqing exposed deep links between government officials and police officers who provided cover for crime syndicates.

The trail led as high as the former director of the city’s judicial department, Wen Qiang, who was executed after convictions involving bribery, rape, extortion and gang-related activities.

In July, the country issued rules requiring officials in government and state companies to report everything from personal assets to the business activities of spouses and children. But some critics say graft is too deeply ingrained in the system and can’t be solved with regulations.

During yesterday’s meeting, officials addressed the importance of implementing preventive measures, especially in recent years where excessive celebrations and forums have created a new form of corruption, the China Daily report said.

China has a mixed record of cracking down on corruption, but when it does the punishments are often severe. The director of China’s food and drug agency was executed three years ago for approving deadly fake medicine in exchange for cash.

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