Drinking Binge At Banquet Kills Chinese Official

From AP:

One Chinese official is dead and another is in a coma after bouts of excessive drinking, state media said Monday in a report highlighting the dangers of a drinking culture connected with government and business work.

Jin Guoqing, a district deputy director of water resources in Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei province, fell unconscious while entertaining guests at an official banquet last week and died on the way to the hospital, the official China Daily said.

Hospital records indicated the 47-year-old’s excessive drinking triggered a fatal heart attack, the English-language newspaper said.

Also last week, Lu Yanpeng, a district chief in southern Guangdong province, fell into a coma after drinking heavily while having dinner with a local Communist Party chief. Lu was rushed to a hospital, where he remains unconscious, the paper said.

Also from the Wall Street Journal blog:

The recent cases highlight just how hard it is to put an end to the cultural expectations that guests will be wined and dined to excess at lavish banquets, a practice that higher level authorities have been trying to crack down on. Failure to conform to such expectations is likely to make the host feel a loss of “face,” or social standing.

At such events, expensive delicacies, such as shark’s fin, abalone and sea cucumber, are often featured on the menu, complemented by repeated toasts of the potent Chinese liquor known as baijiu. A visit to a karaoke bar or massage parlor might round out an evening’s festivities. Each year, an estimated 500 billion yuan ($73 billion) is spent on official banquets, representing a third of total consumer spending on eating out, the China Daily said.

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