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Luxury mooncakes lose attraction amid frugality drive

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-08-29 19:33

BEIJING - Luxury mooncakes that used to raise eyebrows because of their cost have rarely been seen ahead of this year's Mid-Autumn Festival due to China's anti-extravagance campaign.

"We usually would have sold mooncakes worth half a million yuan by this time in previous years, but this year we have only netted tens of thousands of yuan," complained Li Aihua, who owns an online mooncake franchise shop in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province.

"Few people are interested in mooncake gift packages worth 500 yuan ($81) or above, while purchases by government organizations in large quantities are hardly seen anymore," Li said.

The unpopularity of the luxury mooncakes followed a meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection last week.

The CPC's top disciplinary arm called for efforts to fight the "four forms of decadence": formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.

Practices like giving gifts or holding banquets using public funds around festivals, such as the forthcoming Mid-Autumn Festival which falls on September 19 this year, must be restrained, according to a statement after the meeting.

Disciplinary departments have been urged to tighten supervision and enforcement of discipline, alerting the entire Party by exposing and punishing violators.

Disciplinary arms at provincial levels have banned the use of public funds to give gifts in a bid to improve the work style of government agencies.

"These measures are sort of an extension of the 'eight-point rule' announced earlier, and the mooncake market has been affected consequently," said Xiao Jinming, a Shandong University law professor.

China's CPC leadership, elected at a Party congress last November,introduced an "eight-point" rules to fight bureaucratism and formalism late last year, urging CPC officials to reduce pomp, ceremony, and bureaucratic visits and meetings.

The government should introduce more systematic and tangible measures so as to eradicate corruption behind extravagant behaviors, according to experts.

Xiao said the government needs to further prevent and punish corruption in the disguise of gift-giving.

More importantly, gift-giving using public funds must be stopped, said He Zengke, deputy director of the government innovation institute at Peking University.

"This requires stricter budget management, supervision and audit," He said.

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