BEIJING – China has banned officials from buying mooncakes with public funds during an upcoming holiday, as the Communist leadership promotes its crackdown on corruption.
The pastry, a traditional food during the Mid-Autumn Festival which this year falls on September 19, has a sweet, heavy filling often made from lotus seed paste or red beans.
The cakes themselves are relatively cheap, around 100 yuan ($16) for eight. But in a culture where personal connections are often the key to getting business done, Chinese holidays — National Day follows soon afterwards — are often a chance for networking and sometimes for corruption.
The boxes in which mooncakes come have been used as a vehicle for payoffs. Sometimes they have even been made of gold and contain silver chopsticks, according to previous Chinese media reports.
“Sending mooncakes and other items as gifts purchased with public funds during the festivals is strictly prohibited,” the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement.
Officials are also banned from spending public funds on holidays, gym visits or entertainment activities, the anti-graft body said, and government agencies must not hand out excessive bonuses or benefits.
The measures are in response to recent remarks by President Xi Jinping that officials’ behavior during major festivals and holidays was “a significant test of their working style”, the statement said.
Authorities will “punish every violation once it is detected, seriously hold those responsible or in charge accountable, and publicise typical cases to the public”, it added.
“(We) must resolutely put an end to the malpractices during the two holidays.”
China’s new leadership has mounted a high-profile anti-corruption drive since Xi took over as party chief, warning that corruption could destroy the party and threatening to expose high-ranking officials, or “tigers”, along with low-level “flies”.
Some senior figures have been ensnared — among them Jiang Jiemin, who oversaw state-owned firms, and Liu Tienan, once a deputy director of the influential National Development and Reform Commission.