December 11, 2017 / 12:06 PM / 7 months ago

China's graft watchdog warns officials over 'concealed' extravagance

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese officials trying to hide dishonest spending with tricks such as throwing extravagant parties in private will be targeted in a sustained campaign to root out hedonism, the top anti-graft watchdog said on Monday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (front row, center) and fellow delegates stand for the national anthem during the closing session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Concealing spending by holding lavish dinners in private homes, passing off pampering at a spa as “recuperation” from work and going sightseeing while on business trips are all in the sights of the graft busters.

President Xi Jinping has waged a five-year war on graft at all levels of the ruling Communist Party, from high-level “tigers” to lowly “flies” and has pledged to keep up the fight until officials dare not, cannot and do not want to be corrupt.

A crackdown on hedonism and extravagance in a drive to improve professionalism is to go on in Xi’s second term, an unidentified official from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection told the official Xinhua news agency.

“Efforts to address such misconduct should not be stopped and the work to improve the party’s conduct and work styles should never end,” Xinhua cited Xi as saying in a personal stamp of approval.

Petty corruption such as trying to hide extravagance in “concealed locations” will be targeted, as will the use of public funds to organize holidays in the name of recuperation, the official said.

Officials have been trying to get big spending through by organizing things such as weddings and funerals “bit by bit”, staggering gift giving and accepting electronic gift cards or “red packets” of money via online payment platforms, the official said.

Although the anti-graft drive had improved the atmosphere in society, there could be “no intermission and no rests”, the official said.

The CCDI official also warned that officials still suffer from excess “formalism” and “bureaucratism”, Communist Party terms for failing to carry out central party orders.

When hosting visiting officials, some local-level cadres just take them on the same tourist trail where they speak to the same people as if watching a “fashion show”, said the official.

Some attempt to cook the books, or “beautify” their data, to claim success and secure a quick promotion without actually getting the job done, while others simply take a laissez-faire attitude to improving work style.

“Cadres fond of formalism and bureaucratism who create a negative influence or grave results will be strictly punished, without tolerance,” the official said.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd

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