China bans officials from buying mooncakes with public funds


BEIJING (Reuters) - China is banning officials from using public funds to buy mooncakes, pastries offered as gifts during the Mid-Autumn Festival, as part of President Xi Jinping's fight against corruption, the government said on Tuesday.

Officials cannot use public money to send mooncakes as gifts or to arrange banquets that are not related to official duties during the festival, which falls on Sept 19 this year, the ruling Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on its website.

"The Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day are approaching, we must resolutely put an end to using public funds," the commission quoted Mr Xi as saying, in reference to gifts, eating and drinking, tours and extravagant waste.

Mooncakes are filled with ingredients such as lotus seed paste and salted duck egg yolk, and symbolise the moon. The festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is marked by family reunions.

The separate National Day holiday lasts a week from Oct 1 to Oct 7.

Anyone flouting the bans will be severely dealt with, the party discipline watchdog said.

Mr Xi has made cutting back on extravagance and waste a main theme of his administration, seeking to assuage anger over corruption and restore faith in the party.

Last month, the government said it would ban officials from holding extravagant galas linked to official meetings that have hurt the government's image.

Mr Xi has told officials to end elaborate and long-winded welcoming ceremonies for him and other top leaders and banished alcohol from military functions as he tries to project a man-of-the-people image.

The party, fearful of anything that could weaken its grip on power, has struggled to contain public anger over a string of corruption scandals.

Mr Xi has warned that the party's survival is at risk and the country could face unrest if graft is not tackled.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.