In the midst of a national crackdown on extravagant spending by Chinese officials in an effort to thwart government corruption, one Beijing official has attracted major media attention for spending 1.6 million yuan, or more than $261,000, on his son’s lavish three-day wedding.
As Chinese official banquets are being stripped of expensive food and drink and decorations, Ma Linxiang, the deputy village chief of Qingheying in suburban Beijing, dropped more than 1 million yuan on a 250-table wedding ceremony at the upscale China National Convention Center space for the wedding last week. According to reports by Beijing News, Ma claims he spent a lot less than what Chinese media has reported, saying he paid for only two days of festivities at a cost of 200,000 yuan, adding that the bride’s family contributed and that he earned some of it back in gifts from the wedding guests. But Ma also told the local newspaper that he “couldn’t stop” the bride’s side of the family from splurging on the high-end venue and entertainment, which even included two celebrities. According to a report by Reuters, the bride comes from a wealthy family of businesspeople from China’s eastern Jiangsu province.
After the state’s anti-graft bureau launched an investigation into the conflicting claims, the group made a decision to sack the official, citing waste and discipline violations. The group did specify that the money reportedly used by the official did not appear to be from public funds, but they are still investigating that as a possibility.
Many who were captivated by the story online say that the official deserved the firing, saying it seems obvious not to display such wealth while a very public crackdown is happening. “Just don’t do it!” one user on Weibo said. “If you are going to hire celebrities and have a motorcade of luxury cars, don’t be surprised when you get caught.”
People were especially critical after Ma released a statement about how aware he was of President Xi’s new anti-corruption overhaul.
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“I’m a village official, I know all about the party’s rules and what you should not do, but the bride’s family insisted and I couldn’t stop them,” Ma told Xinhua. The firing isn't really a surprise considering it is not the first time an official was dismissed from his position as a result of wedding spending. Earlier in the summer, an official in northern China's Hebei province was fired after local residents caught wind of his daughter's pricey wedding.
“This can’t be a good start for the in-laws' relationship,” another user joked.