Some Grass-Roots Level Cadres Busy Receiving Guests 150 Days Out of Year, Drinking is a Necessary Component

China Comment (半月谈) reports on grass-roots level cadres’ responsibility to receive guests. While Chinese corruption guidelines urge against excessively lavish displays and banquets, the definition of “excessively lavish” is all too excessively vague. A look at the culture of official reception, and its effect on cadres, translated by CDT:

Official reception is currently an “important task” for grass-roots level cadres. Some unit chiefs spoke candidly [on this topic]: “If we didn’t have to wine and dine people, work wouldn’t be so hard.” In other words, grass-roots level cadres are fed up with the excesses of official reception. In truth, China has extremely strict restrictions on “official reception” — but many of these norms and constraints are often no more than “unwritten rules.” An official from Pingyao County in Shanxi said it best: “all who come are visitors, none of whom can be angered.” How can the issues of official be resolved under these conditions? This is a worthy topic of reflection for relevant departments.

Inspections and investigations are a source of distress for grass-roots level cadres. In a Guangxi coastal city, many villages received inspections from superiors 30 times, with the most being up to 90 times. Village leaders are occupied with reception niceties between 150 to 300 days in a year. In the famous and beautiful Guilin, a certain county received over 80 regional and municipal evaluation and inspection groups — not including national “official inspection groups” — in one month. In a certain county-level city lush with red woods and on the Sino-Vietnamese border, a regional unit received 7 inspection groups in one day. In the afternoon, arrangements were made for the teams to attend different restaurants for meals. Staff members — though out in full force — were nonetheless insufficient. And in order to give each group an opportunity to give a toast, the bureau chief rushed to different restaurants by automobile. After sending off the inspection teams, the office director entered the hospital.

In an interview, a few grass-roots level cadres joked: “The amount of drinks equals capability, and drunkenness amounts to a work style.” One government official even went so far as to say that “reception is ‘hard reason,'” and “reception is a productive force.” Under the pull of these ideals, reception can make high demands on a cadre’s body. For example, in recent years, an official died of intoxication after receiving guests. This was reprinted over and over in newspapers, with some even seeing him as having “died in the line of duty” and posthumously recognizing him as a “martyr.” Imbibing spirits has already become a central part of reception, and has become a “required course” for grass-roots level workers.

July 17, 2010 1:12 AM
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Categories: Politics, Translation