China bans shark fin dinners, suites for officials in latest crackdown

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Chinese authorities have banned shark fin and bird's nest soup from official receptions and told lower level officials they cannot stay in suites on business trips in the latest step in a crackdown on extravagance and waste.

The official Xinhua news agency said on Sunday that cigarettes and expensive alcoholic drinks were also banned from official receptions, citing a document issued by the Communist Party's Central Committee and the State Council.

"Shark fins, bird nests and products of rare wild animals are popular materials in luxury dinners in China," Xinhua cited the document as saying. "Officials on business tours should arrange their own meals according to relevant expenditure standards."

Chinese President Xi Jinping has sought to address growing public anger at the illegal or unethical behaviour of party officials, especially those with flamboyant lifestyles, often seen as a sign they are corrupt.

Since taking office in March, Mr Xi has called corruption a threat to the party's survival and a number of government officials and executives of top companies have been detained over corruption allegations.

Authorities have also issued directives aimed at curbing extravagance, including cutting personal use of government vehicles and banning the sending of new year cards at public expense.

The latest document also said that officials below provincial level cannot stay in suites when on business trips, while their hosts are banned from giving them cash, souvenirs or local products as gifts, Xinhua said.

Officials will also not get welcoming ceremonies at airports or stations, and conferences at tourist attractions will be banned.

Oversight will be tightened to ensure the rules are followed, the Xinhua report said.

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