Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Chinese Communist Party's New Anti-Corruption Rules--Small Weddings and No New Years Cards

I have been considering the recent significant changes to regulations in China touching on corruption and those practices that may create an appearance of or incentives to corruption, especially among Communist Party  officials. 

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

Shan Gao (Penn State University  SJD candidate) has recently prepared an essay on the way these approaches are now making themselves felt at the provincial level, in this case the efforts in Hunan Province.  Expect more to come. 

(Pix from "China's luxurious mooncake retailers fall victim to anti-corruption measures", Autralia News Network, 14 Sept. 2013 ("Some of China's famous high-end mooncake retailers are reportedly suffering as result of the government's new anti-corruption measures. . . . Expensive watches, alcohol and jewelry are some of the items which have been hidden within the elaborate packaging, with some mooncakes fetching as much as $US 3000."))


Party’s new Anti-corruption rule: Small wedding and no new years’ greeting cards?
Shan Gao

Wedding, not only a traditional way for a new couple to carry on their family values and duties, but also a cost efficient way of building and constructing potential social connections with their wedding guests for the future. MOC reported that the average Chinese wedding spending during 2006-2007 was ¥126,600 (more than $ 18,085 by the time). [1] With thousands years of wedding culture, Chinese parents and couples understand how to properly preparing themselves in order to meet social norms. The calculation is quite simple, big spending on weddings will be pay back by guest gifts and patron’s future favors in any form. Surely the spending on wedding has gone up with years of economy development since 2007. Moreover small funeral just as small wedding, under such calculation, is culturally and socially un-acceptable for Chinese majorities.

Since the new administrations’ campaign of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Extravagant Spending and life style, “big and more” is not a wise choice for Party and State employees and organs. The authority had already issued many rules regarding government and party spending, such as “Measures for Central CPC and State Agencies’ Conference Budget Management[2]”. There are also reports that county deputy director lost title and under corruption and criminal investigation after exposure of extravagant spending on son’s wedding[3].

(Pix: Beijing village government official spend 1,600,000 RMB (262,713 USD) rent National Convention Center for son’s wedding

(Pix: Wedding car parade, “Wen zhou rich’s wedding car parade, cooler than Auto Show”[4])

Note: Car Parade is a part of wedding spending trend for the past decades. New couple would like to have a car parade to show their economy power as well as social ranking. In fact, wedding car parade rental has grown to a very mature industry with the generosity of Chinese couple. The new wedding spending restrictions rule specifically restrict the number of cars, eight is maxim, in the car parade.

Under such trend, “small and less” would be a safer strategy for Party and State employees and officials. On Nov 1, Hu-nan CCDIC & MOF’s temporary rules regarding Party and State employee’s wedding and funeral guest rule is formally effected[5]. The draft of this temporary rules was first been published by Hu-nan CCDIC & MOF on July 25th for public opinion[6]. According to this temporary rule, the maxim guest for Party and State employee prepared wedding could only be less than 300 (30 tables). Except weddings and funerals, state and party employee prepared party cannot invite guests other than family members. The new rules regarding wedding and funeral soon gain media’s attention and won the title of “the MOST STRICT RULES of wedding in the history of Hunan province.”

Although Hunan province’s rule won media the tile of “Most Strict Wedding Rule,” it not really the most strict one compared with Shan dong Liaocheng’s rule. In fact, on October 24th, Liao cheng, a city under Shandong province had similar restrictive rules on wedding. It only allow 20 tables wedding guests and require reports of wedding plan within 7 days prior to wedding date, which is more restrict than Hu-nan’s rule[7]. Below are the exceptions from the publications of Hunan province’s temporary rule for you: [8]


Hu-nan Province CCDIC & MOF issue Notice on Temporary Rules on Party and State Employee Preparing Wedding and Funeral Party

Article 1 The wedding guest should be limited within 200 people (about 20 tables), in case where husband and wife’s guest from the same city, guest should be limited within 300 people (about 30 tables).The size of funeral should also be limited accordingly.

Any parties or gatherings, except weddings and funerals, should not invite or accept guests other than family relatives (his/her spouse, or his/her spouse's lineal relative, or collateral relative within 3 generations)

Article 2 It’s prohibited to directly or indirectly accept valuables or entertainments beyond the normal etiquette from any companies or institutions other than family relatives.

Article 3 Costs of wedding, funerals and other parties should be sponsored by personal funds other than funds from other companies or institutions.

Article 4 The parade cars for wedding or funeral shall be limited to 8, and it is prohibited to use any law enforcement or government regulation enforcement vehicles.

Article 5 It is prohibited to offer valuables or entertainments beyond the normal etiquettes as weeding or funeral gifts to state or party employees when there is no family relative relation exists.

Article 6 Party and state employees shall report relevant CCDIC& MOF authority their weeding plans, such as date, time, locations, guest number, 10 days prior to weeding date; it also required to report within 10 days after the party to relevant authority whether the wedding was accord to reported plan. In case of funeral, it is required to report relevant authority within 10 days after the funeral. The chair or chief of Party Committee, People’s Congress, Government, CPPCC at all levels shall report their wedding and funeral parties to upper level CCDIC & MOF authority.

Article 7 Any violations of above rules (1-6) will result punishments accordingly. Educations and criticisms will apply to minor violations. Party discipline will apply in case there are several violations. valuables or entertainments beyond the normal etiquettes as gifts will all be confiscated.

Article 8 Party or state organ’s chief or chair will be responsible for violations of this rule, the organ itself may subject to the punishment of losing eligibility of excellent entity of year[9] in case the chief or chair of the organ failed to investigate, prevent or properly handle their employees’ violations of this rule.

Article 9 Party employees (functionaries) as mentioned here refers to persons perform service in Party organs, except logistic personals, and other personnel who full time or part time dealing with Party affairs. State employees (functionaries) as mentioned here refer to persons who perform public service in State organs. Persons who perform public service in State-owned companies or, enterprises, institutions or people's organizations, persons who are assigned by State organs, State-owned companies, enterprises or institutions to companies, enterprises or institutions that are not owned by the State or people's organizations to perform public service and the other persons who perform public service according to law shall all be regarded as State functionaries.

Reactions to this new rule varied among different people. On the first day of this rule, some venues had reported cancelations from couples. However, some people questioned the possibility of executing in the long term[10]. November 1st is not only the first day that Hunan province’s temporary wedding guest restriction being effective, but also the date CCDIC issued Ban of state funds on New Year greeting cards.

Based on CCDIC’s website, Xi jinping’s recent remark on Hebei province’s democratic life meeting criticized local government’s spending on New Year greeting cards and calendars. As Xi provided, “this is formalism.” Thus, in order to “fully realize Central CPC’s ‘eight rule’ and against extravagant spending,” CCDIC & MOF issue bans on state funding on purchasing, issuing, sending new year greeting cards or calendars.” As the website provided that, foreign affairs and matters relate to Hongkong, Taiwan and Chinese oversea residents not subject to this ban.

(Pix: Greeting cards and calendar of 2013. Purchasing and sending New Year greeting cards and calendar is a popular tradition among Chinese during the holiday season[11])


[1] 中国新人结婚均消费12.66万 达月收入20倍(图)

[2] Larry Backer, The Emerging Forms of Chinese Anti-Corruption Institutions

[3] Beijing village government official spend 1,600,000 RMB rent National Convention Center for son’s wedding

[4] Wen zhou rich’s wedding car parade, cooler than Auto Show

[5] 湖南史上最严“限宴令”11月1日起实施

[6] 《关于规范党和国家工作人员操办婚丧喜庆事宜的暂行规定》征求意见的公告

[7] 聊城官员操办婚丧嫁娶必须报告 办婚宴不得超20桌

[8] 湖南省纪委关于印发《关于党和国家工作人员操办婚丧喜庆事宜的暂行规定》的通知

[9] Excellent entity of the year is a credential system under Party-State governance system, this title always associate with entity’s funding and other preferential policies.

[10]最严限宴令来了 借宴敛财成“过去式”



 In the meantime, the press coverage may pose a problem.

 Pix from Luo Guan, China to overtake Somalia as world’s most corrupt nation by 2020: report, China Daily Show, Dec. 2012 ("Corruption has long been the bane of the Chinese public and senior Communist Party officials. Many believe it is now so rife, it has seeped into every aspects of public life, from bribing bureaucrats to approve a simple license to ‘tipping’ a teacher before class. But the state media has angrily denounced the report, with the People’s Daily running a hot-headed leader immediately debunking the claims. “Some pseudo-scientists want to pour filth on China by tarnishing it with garbage ideas,” the editorial raged. “This is scientific factoid and the Chinese people will not be easily fooled.”"))

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