Chinese support frugality drive

Beijing, Feb 6 (IANS) The Chinese have started to take note of efforts to fight corruption, as government leaders have sworn to ditch extravagance and uphold frugality, reported Xinhua.

The latest example of the government's efforts came Tuesday, when the head of a state-owned enterprise was suspended from his post for attending a luxury banquet after one of the diners wrote about the event online.

Communist Party of China (CPC) discipline authorities in the city of Zhuhai in south China's Guangdong province have ordered Zhou Shaoqiang, general manager of Zhuhai Financial Investment Holdings Co. Ltd., to step down after exceeding spending standards for the expensive dinner.

Zhou and 16 others attended a banquet at a local restaurant Jan 4 that cost 37,517 yuan (about $6,000), including 12 bottles of expensive red wine.

While Zhou denied that they had drunk 12 bottles of red wine, saying that only six bottles were drunk, his case has garnered attention from netizens amid a government call to uproot corruption.

The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee has issued rules requiring officials to improve their work style and refrain from excessive spending in early December.

The state-run news agency said that the Chinese are closely watching the outcome, as there are questions as to how strictly the rules will be implemented.

Netizens have questioned luxury banquets held to celebrate the relocation of villagers' committee in Qianwang village in economically less-developed county of Shangrao, east China's Jiangxi province, as well as criticized officials who have ignored rules regarding traffic controls during official visits.

Their concerns have been met with some action on the part of the government.

In Shangrao, the local authorities have sacked three officials for their participation in the relocation banquets.

"Internet supervision is a sword of Damocles for officials, as it helps to fill in blind spots in existing governmental supervision," said Jia Guixin, deputy chief of the Shanxi Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

Experts said public anger regarding official corruption indicates that their expectations for how the government should behave have been raised.

Xu Yaquan, an associate professor at the Journalism School of Nanchang University, said the growing popularity of online muckraking has aided the implementation of the government's anti-corruption guidelines.

"Be they supervisors, observers or promoters, Internet users are boosting authorities' efforts to build a clean government," Xu said.

The report said the people can feel the changes brought by the anti-extravagance campaign.

Flower sales in south China's city of Guangzhou have plummeted by 40 percent, as the large orders of flowers that used to be placed by government departments are no longer being made. Restaurants have also reported receiving fewer booking requests.