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Mooncake and mitten-crab eclipsed in luxury ban

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-13 21:57

BEIJING -- Mooncake is being snubbed in China for the first time anyone can remember, despite of the forthcoming Mid-Autumn Festival, while the fate of crabs is only a little bit better - or worse, depending on your point of view.

Luxury mooncakes -- a form of tribute -- used to be sold at staggering prices, easily more than 1,000 yuan (about $162), but such prices are rare this year, ahead of the September 19 festival.

At the Walmart in Beijing's Xuanwu Men Wai Street, Xinhua reporters found price tags on mooncakes mostly marked with numbers ranging from 49 to 300.

"The highest price is 888 yuan and only two boxes of mooncakes at such price have been sold so far," a seller told reporters.

According to He Yikui, executive deputy head of south China's Guangxi Restaurants Cuisine Association, most local mooncake manufacturers are operating at output of around 50 percent.

On China's leading online shopping platform, almost none of the mooncakes priced over 2,000 yuan have been sold in the past month, compared with hundreds of thousands of sales for those priced at or below 300 yuan.

Sales for mooncakes priced between 1,000 to 2,000 yuan are also less than 20 on Taobao.

Prices of the Chinese mitten crabs, another autumn delicacy for Chinese foodies, have also declined from the same period last year, but the fall is not so precipitous as for their mooncake companions.

The Suzhou Yangcheng Lake Crab Association predicts an average of 20 percent lower prices from last year.

Size of human palm, the crabs generally live in the fresh waters of east China's Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces and are rich in protein and amino acids. The price of a single crab was once driven up to over $100.

Since August 21, about one month before the festival, disciplinary authorities of the Communist Party of China have repeatedly barred officials from gifting mooncakes and other presents using public money.

"Giving gifts like costly mooncakes and crabs has deviated from the traditional virtue of frugality, and buying them with public funds has eroded the Party and social atmosphere," said China's anticorruption tsar Wang Qishan.

On Tuesday, China's courts were told that there would be no mooncakes on the public dime for elimination of the four "evil winds" -- formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance -- a beefing up of CPC leadership's "eight-point" rules issued for bureaucratic reform late last year.

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