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Friday, Oct 31, 2014

Asia

Chinese govt to officials: Stop playing mahjong

The New Paper | Friday, Oct 31, 2014

Mahjong has become the latest "extravagance" to be condemned in censorious official Chinese media, as pleasure-seeking Communist Party officials are urged to shun the game in the name of curbing corruption.

Chinese people have been clacking mahjong tiles for more than a century, with some accounts even naming its inventor as the ancient sage Confucius.

But officials have taken their hobby too far, according to a commentary in the People's Daily yesterday.

"The phenomenon of Communist officials going to rural retreats to have fun, play mahjong and poker must resolutely stop," the commentary said, referring to the widespread practice of betting on games "to add a little stimulation".

The article called for an equally "resolute" end to government staff "spending public money to visit historical sites in the name of 'study', and then simply going to any old fun place", AFP reported.

The commentary was the latest in a series of state-issued broadsides against official extravagance, as China's President Xi Jinping attempts to improve the Communist party's image in response to anger over endemic corruption.

The campaign against graft has been blamed for falling sales of luxury items, and hit business at expensive hotels and restaurants, according to reports.

But there has been a backlash by some officials, who have held secret sauna parties and have been hiding alcohol in plastic water bottles as they seek to get around the crackdown on extravagance, the People's Daily said last year.

"Constant reports of saunas held at farm houses" were evidence of a growing culture of "low key extravagance" that was damaging the new president's anti-corruption campaign, it added.


This article was first published on Oct 29, 2014.
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