Beijing's graftbusters going after golf and gluttony

BEIJING • China's ruling Communist Party has listed golf and gluttony as violations for the first time as it tightens its rules to prevent officials from engaging in corrupt practices, while also turning an even sterner eye on sexual impropriety.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been cracking down on deep-rooted graft since taking over the party's leadership in late 2012 and the presidency in 2013. Dozens of senior officials have been investigated or jailed.

Tales of graft and officials' high life, including extravagant banquets, have prompted widespread public anger because bureaucrats are meant to live on modest sums and lead morally exemplary lives.

The new rules are an update of existing regulations and are designed to better codify exactly what constitutes a violation of discipline, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Wednesday. They are applicable to all 88 million party members for the first time and also include a new ethical code.

"Party members must separate public and private interests, put the public's interest first, and work selflessly," the report said. Party members must also "champion simplicity and guard against extravagance".

"The new discipline regulation explicitly lists extravagant eating and drinking, and playing golf as violations, which were not included previously," it said.

In the minds of many Chinese, playing golf provides opportunities for officials to make shady deals. Party officials who play the game have already been targeted by Mr Xi's crack down. Last year, Beijing began enforcing a 2004 ban on building new golf courses more rigorously.

A vice-mayor in a south-eastern Chinese city was sacked this month for belonging to a golf club and playing the game when he should have been working.

The new rules also talk about "improper sexual relations"with others, broadening the scope of proscriptions that had referred only to "keeping paramours and conducting adultery".

Forming "cliques" that seek to split the party is also banned under the new regulations, along with hiding personal issues that should be reported and abusing positions of power to seek gain for family members and staff.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline 'Beijing's graftbusters going after golf and gluttony'. Print Edition | Subscribe