China graft buster orders staff to ditch their VIP cards

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top anti-corruption official has demanded that his staffers ditch their VIP cards, commonly given out by Chinese businesses to grant access to discounts or exclusive services, state media said on Monday, as part of the country's push to defeat graft.

VIP cards in China can offer everything from cheap deals at massage parlours to free gifts in departmental stores and preferential seating at popular restaurants, and hence offer countless opportunities for abuse by corrupt officials and business people.

"Although membership cards are small (objects), they reflect big problems of working style," the official Xinhua news agency cited Wang Qishan, head of the ruling Communist Party's anti-corruption bureau, as saying at a meeting.

Officials and employees working in disciplinary and supervisory departments should discard all their VIP cards by June 20 and follow this order "seriously and earnestly", the report added.

This campaign is a way for graft-busters to act by example for other party members by showing they have high standards, Mr Wang said.

"The demands of the campaign are not onerous, but they have to be followed and are totally doable," he added. "Men of honour need to show that they are honourable."

Since becoming Communist Party boss in November, and president in March, Mr Xi Jinping has made battling pervasive corruption a top theme of his administration, warning the problem is so severe it could threaten the party's survival.

A major theme of that fight has been an austerity drive that has emptied top-end restaurants and dented the sale of expensive food and drink, as the party tries to allay criticism of the extravagant lifestyles of some officials.

However, there has been little apparent progress to get officials to publicly disclose their assets, and the party has given no indication it will allow the establishment of a fully independent judicial body to tackle corruption.

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