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Shark Fin, Premium Booze Off the Menu for Cadres in Chinese City

China to Ban Official Shark Fin Consumption
A man walks by a store selling shark fins in Hong Kong. Photographer: Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images

A Chinese city where slowing growth has spurred dozens of suicides, bankruptcies and disappearances by local businessmen barred officials from expensing shark-fin soup and high-end liquor in a bid to end lavish banquets.

“Official receptions are criticized by the whole society,” the Wenzhou city Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement on its website July 5. “It has become a common practice to drink during lunch, to have up to eight local officials at banquets when only one or two guests are in town.”

The Wenzhou government imposed a limit of 60 yuan ($9.40) per person for work-related meals. Wenzhou barred officials from expensing abalone, shark fin, and sea cucumber. “High-end” liquor such as that made by Kweichow Moutai Co., imported alcohol and premium cigarettes are also no longer allowed.

Wenzhou’s move comes after the national government said July 4 it would ban officials from consuming shark fin at government expense within three years. The move is the latest in a series of belt-tightening measures in the city, which saw growth moderate to a 5 percent pace last quarter, the weakest in at least four years.

Last month the city announced it was selling 1,400 government cars to cut costs and increase transparency. Chinese officials spent 200 billion yuan on meals in 2004, China Central Television said on its website, citing the central Communist Party newspaper Study Times.

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