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Festival fun fizzles; blame new-found frugality

Image courtesy of CCTVChina residents are seeing some changes in this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, and not all the changes are popular.

The Mid-Autumn Festival started Sunday. It’s traditionally celebrated with family reunions and feasts of moon cakes while gazing at the full moon on the festival night.

Since China state TV staged the first Mid-Autumn Festival evening gala in 1991, galas have been widely hosted by regional TV stations. They quickly became a popular part of the celebration.

But the TV productions grew in gaudiness and came to symbolize extravagance, corruption and irrational regional competitiveness.

Besides overpayments to famous performers, local government officials have been caught embezzling public funds by inflating gala expenditures or taking kickbacks from event sponsors, state news agency Xinhua said.

Last month, the central government issued a ban on all public-funded commercial galas and high-priced performances by famous entertainers. The number of scheduled galas dropped dramatically across the country and remaining galas adopted a frugal format with low-profile performances and more audience participation.

While some audiences hailed the anti-extravagance drive, others lamented the loss of quality and excitement in the galas.

Entertainment companies reported a drop in the gala performance market by at least 30 percent, according to Chinese performance arts alliance official Tian Zhihui.

The cutbacks have also caused problems for bakeries and restaurants after many government organizations and state enterprises have withdrawn their plans to buy mooncakes.

“Every staff in the hotel is assigned a sales quota,” complained by a Chongqing-based hotel chef who is now overwhelmed trying to sell an over supply of mooncakes.

Source: Xinhua News, First Financial Daily (第一财经日报), China Daily, Chongqing Morning Post (重庆晨报)


Hui Zhi is a Senior China Analyst with ethiXbase and the China Compliance Digest.

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