Jun 22, 2016

    Alcohol ban for Anhui's official dinners


    A NO-BOOZE rule has been enforced in China's Anhui province for all official banquets.

    The only exception are dinners held to attract investment or involves foreign affairs.

    The new decree, released on Thursday, is considered the toughest across the country.

    It was made in response to criticism from China's top anti-graft body.

    The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection sent a team of inspectors to the province in February, after which the anti-graft watchdog made a public statement that excessive drinking at official banquets was common among the province's officials.

    It added that the practice "should be curbed immediately and effectively".

    "Those who violate the rule will be severely punished," according to a notice from the party committee of Yijiang district in Wuhu city on Friday.

    "Many Chinese believe a banquet without alcohol is no banquet at all," said Yang Hongwen, chief engineer and certified wine taster at Anhui Golden Seed Winery, a liquor manufacturer in Fuyang.

    Zhang Zheng, a public servant from the city of Ma'anshan, said some officials have developed a philosophy of drinking.

    "Many Chinese believe they can judge a person's quality through observing the attitude and style of one's drinking, so drinking at banquets is often considered effective to build trust between people and get more knowledge of each other," he added.

    Xinhua News Agency said recently that drinking at banquets may breed corruption.

    "It happens often that some officials like to discuss work issues when drinking at banquets instead of in the office," said China Discipline Inspection Daily, the mouthpiece of the top anti-graft body.

    A report by Beijing Times said "tough as the new rule is, it still has loopholes".

    The report questioned whether more official banquets would be held in the name of attracting investment, as drinking alcohol on such occasions is excluded from the ban.