China Bans Its Officials From Buying Gifts With Public Funds During New Year, Spring Festival Holidays

   on November 22 2013 5:29 AM
Red flags on the Tiananmen square
A Paramilitary soldier walks underneath red flags on the Tiananmen square next to the Great Hall of the People, where the Chinese Communist Party plenum was held in Beijing, on Nov.12, 2013. Reuters

China’s ruling communist party has ordered officials not to use state funds to buy New Year's gifts, such as fire crackers or alcohol, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

"Party and government offices, civil associations, state-owned enterprises and financial institutions will be prohibited from exchanging gifts bought with public money, such as cigarettes and alcohol, during the upcoming holidays," Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, or CCDI, of the Communist Party of China, said in a statement, on Thursday.

The ban is part of the party’s crackdown against waste and corruption among the government and party officials, and it extends to New Year’s Day and the Lunar New Year on Jan. 31.

According to the statement, officials are also barred from purchasing and gift flowers, food and tobacco, and the commission has asked its units at various levels to report violations.

The commission noted that public funds are widely used to buy gifts and celebration items during the holidays, and the practice has sparked public criticism.

“The Chinese people see holidays as the proper time to nurture bonds with friends and cozy up to government officials, and the items listed above are considered preferred gifts to bribe officials or business partners,” Xinhua reported, adding that “the masses have expressed strong opinions," against the practice.  

However, an exception to the ban will be made for people who buy gifts to “console” others and employees in financial difficulties, Reuters reported.

Since assuming power in March, Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced various measures to curb graft and unethical behavior among government officials and politicians.

Last year, a Central Committee meeting of the ruling party’s political bureau had adopted “an eight-point rule” that called for curbing the corrupt practices and flamboyant lifestyles of Chinese bureaucrats and top politicians. 

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