No cheer for Chinese province as banquet booze ban slapped on officials

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A county government in eastern China’s Anhui province has banned all alcoholic beverages from official banquets, except those held to attract investment or for foreign affairs, the state-backed newspaper China Daily reported on Tuesday.

The banquet booze ban was considered to be the toughest measure of its kind made yet across China, which has cracked down on corruption and high-living among senior officials since President Xi Jinping came to power more than three years ago.

The new rule was made in response to criticism from China’s top anti-graft body, which sent a team of inspectors to the province in February, the China Daily said.

The Anqing county branch of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement on its website that excessive drinking at official banquets had become a “chronic illness” and could become an avenue for abuse of power.

A blanket ban would be the toughest measure yet against lavish spending on official banquets after China banned high-end liquor from official and military functions in 2012, dragging down sales of favored tipples such as China’s fiery spirit baijiu and imported fine wines.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Paul Tait