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Ban on banquets spices up discussion

By Yang Jun in Guiyang and Xu Wei in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-21 07:19

A near-complete ban on banquets in Kaili, Guizhou province, has drawn mixed reactions, with restaurant owners worried about a decrease in business.

The pilot regulation, made public by the city government on Monday, said banquets are now allowed only for first marriages and funerals. The rule applies not only to city officials and civil servants, but also residents, including expats.

Wen Rengang, a spokesman for the city government, said the regulation is aimed at preventing the use of banquets as an opportunity to rake in money, as well as curbing extravagance and promoting frugality.

"The regulation primarily targets violators from the Party and governments, and they will be held accountable by disciplinary watchdogs," he said.

Restaurants have also been ordered to ensure any banquets they host are organized with approval from the authorities, or they could face a fine.

Tan Yudi, who owns several restaurants in Kaili, is thinking about starting other ventures as the regulation could severely affect business.

Tan said such banquets normally cost about 500 yuan ($73) for each table, and the restaurant can host 600 to 800 people at one banquet.

Many residents have voiced support for the regulation, saying that it will free them from the obligation of attending such banquets, which for a guest can be expensive, because they are expected to offer money as a gift to the host.

"With the new regulation, we do not have to save face and be forced to attend unnecessary banquets," said Yang Bo, a civil servant from the city government.

Zhang Yuping, a resident of Chengxi community, said she has had to attend various banquets, such as celebrations for college entrance or a child's birthday.

A government employee, who gave only her surname, Li, said she will not be affected as authorities started restricting the number of banquets that government employees can attend in 2014.

Wen, the spokesman, said the city rolled out a measure to curb banquets early in 2014, but later found it necessary to firm up the rules.

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