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Guangzhou on alert for corruption during festival

Updated: 2014-08-21 14:59
By ZHENG CAIXIONG (chinadaily.com.cn)

A senior official from the Guangzhou Party Commission of Discipline Inspection has promised to expand investigations and punishment of officials who accept bribes or bribe their leadership during the coming mid-autumn festival.

Mei Heqing, a member of the standing committee of the city's top anti-graft body, said whether an official is clean and honest greatly relies on whether he or she takes bribes or bribes his or her superiors during major Chinese festivals.

The mid-autumn festival, or the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, falls on September 8 this year.

"The Party's anti-graft body certainly expands its investigations on official corruption during the festival, which is usually a peak period for taking and offering bribes," Mei told a press conference in the Guangdong provincial capital on Wednesday afternoon.

"Chinese people usually pay great importance to emotional attachments among relatives and friends. This is why anti-corruption has become an even tougher task in China than in Western countries and regions," he said.

In addition to a ban on buying gifts with public money, Mei reiterated that no Party or government official is allowed to visit luxury private clubs or restaurants during the festival, and those who violate the Party discipline and relevant regulations will be punished.

Mei who is also deputy director of the Guangzhou Bureau of Supervision, made his remarks after a number of senior Party and government officials have been investigated for serious violation of Party discipline and State laws and accepting and offering bribes in previous months.

Wan Qingliang, former Party chief of Guangzhou, was put under investigation for serious violation of Party discipline at the end of June. Wan was said to have visited private clubs and attended luxury banquets days before being taken away by anti-graft officials from the central government.

Mei confirmed Yang Yanwen, Party chief of Guangzhou's Huadu district, is under further investigation for serious violation of Party discipline and allegedly accepting bribes early this month.

Mei's commission has officially filed to further investigate Li Junfu, former Party chief and director of Guangzhou Bureau of Land Resources and Housing Management.

Both Yang and Li, who was sacked in July, are suspected to have accepted bribes during festivals.

Peng Peng, a senior researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Science, said progress has been achieved after governments at all levels banned officials from visiting luxury private clubs and restaurants, which were be hotbeds for corruption.

"The so-called sangong (public funds) expenditures which include official receptions, vehicle purchases and overseas trips, have been reduced in recent months and that will help prevent and fight corruption," he told China Daily.

"Many officials now dare not visit private clubs and luxury restaurants publicly as they did in past months and many companies dare not publicly invite officials to visit luxury venues either," Peng said.

As a result, the price of shark fins plummeted in the Guangdong provincial capital this year after the government banned consuming the expensive delicacy using public funds.

Shark fin, which used to change hands at more than 1,400 yuan ($227.60) per 500 grams in previous months, is now priced at 600 yuan per 500 grams, or even less, in Guangzhou's Yidelu special dried seafood bazaar, local media reported

Along with the price cut, sales of shark fins have dropped around 80 percent in the past two months from the same period of the previous year.

According to Wu Huihan, deputy director of the Guangzhou Chamber of Dried Seafood, prices for the dried fins will not increase this year.

Guangzhou has been known for its cooking culture for centuries and has been a major market on the Chinese mainland for shark fins, abalone and sea cucumbers in past years.

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