22 September 2019
The Communist Party has banned party and government officials from visiting expensive private clubs. Photo: Bloomberg
The Communist Party has banned party and government officials from visiting expensive private clubs. Photo: Bloomberg

POLICY WATCH: Happy hour over for Chinese officials

China’s corruption tsars have opened a new front on their ongoing campaign against graft, calling time on visits by government and Communist Party officials to the country’s expensive private clubs. The officials are also banned from going to private parties because of the “serious negative effect on party and political work styles and social ethos”.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which oversees the conduct of party members, said some party officials who frequented private clubs exchanged favors with patrons in return for money or sex. From now on, no official can enter or accept membership of such clubs, the commission said.

The order is the latest in a long line of discipline directives introduced since Xi Jinping took the party’s helm last year. The overall campaign is designed to quell decade-long public anger at the rewards officials have reaped from business in exchange for government largesse.

In the past year, the party has also clamped down on extravagance by banning flower arrangements in meeting rooms, expensive liquor, delicacies such as shark fin, and expensive gifts during festivals. Earlier this month, the commission went so far as to order Chinese officials to have simple and frugal funerals. 

Public anger has also been rising over private clubs, which are often built illegally with public resources in historical buildings or parks, and frequented by the rich and powerful. Such clubs disregard the public interest and are hotbeds of extravagance and corruption, according to the commission.

Economic growth is expected to continue to swell the ranks of China’s wealthiest but it also presents a challenge to the core values of the Communist Party, which claims to stand with the grass-roots against the rich. The party has issued guidelines to bolster its core socialist values and pool efforts to realize the so-called Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.

These core values include the national goals of prosperity, democracy, civility, and harmony; the social goals of freedom, equality, justice and the rule of law; and individual values of patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendship. The General Office of the party’s Central Committee said the values should be included in the national education plan and “cover all schools and those receiving education”.

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EJ Insight writer