BEIJING Chinese netizens on Wednesday bit back at a government decision to ban serving shark fin soup at state banquets within three years, mocking it as a timid step by leaders who spend lavishly on other delicacies and are aloof from common concerns.
"You have to wait three years to do this?" demanded Wu Yaxue, a psychologist in Beijing, on his microblog account.
"Given the way Chinese civil servants eat, in three years you won't need to enforce this ban; the shark fin will be all gone."
Shark fin can sell for up to $600 per pound, increasing the practice of fishermen sawing fins and leaving the ocean predator to bleed to death. Environmental groups have called for an end to the eating of shark fin soup which is often served at special occasions by Chinese communities worldwide.
"Ordinary people eat starch noodles, officials use the people's money to eat shark fin," growled "Nova Zhou" on his microblog.
China's has legions of microbloggers on sites like Sina Corp.s (SINA.O) Weibo, which offers a rare opportunity for open discussion, especially on the lifestyle of the communist party elite, though breaching restrictions can lead to arrest.
Others ridiculed the government remarks on shark fin made on Tuesday, saying the decision was aimed at saving costs for official functions, a sore point in China where a growing wealth gap has caused social tension.
"This just proves that solving the problems of housing, the elderly, the environment, corruption, employment, education, health care, food safety, migrant workers, stock markets, buying train tickets, and banning shark's fin and maotai (expensive rice wine) are all more difficult than launching a rocket into outer space," posted "Heng in South Korea".
Heng was referring to China's recent manned space shot from which three astronauts returned to Earth last week.
"So, are they going to eat panda now?" scoffed another Weibo blogger.
(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones; Editing by Ed Lane)