China’s Latest Crackdown: The Liquid Lunch

As Xinhua reported (and CDT translated) last August, officials in Xinyang, Henan Province have been touting the economic and social benefits the city has accrued after banning the consumption of alcohol at official banquets. The New York Times reports today:

The target of Mr. Li’s midafternoon sting last week was not just tipsy cadres but a ritual that many Communist Party officials have long considered a part of their job description: the hours-long, alcohol-soaked midday banquet (usually paid for with public money). For the past year, Mr. Li and other investigators have swooped into government offices in this grimy city of seven million people to catch civil servants partaking of the liquid lunch. One violator was fired on the spot.

With Beijing trying to rein in official corruption, the campaign in Xinyang, in Henan Province, might seem like comic relief. But public disgust with official privilege is so palpable that the campaign has attracted national attention, spawned imitators in other cities and offered a tantalizing hint at how much China’s liquor industry profits from the thirst of Communist Party officials.


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