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China closes private clubs in public parks

Several regional authorities have issued cease and desist orders to private clubs and high-end restaurants dining venues in public parks and cultural sites.

The venues have been criticized for occupying public space to serve government officials and business tycoons with exotic delicacies, fuelling the perception of official extravagance and corruption. Member-only clubs and restaurants within public parks in Hangzhou, Xiamen and Changsha are either being shut down or ordered to cut their prices to cater to ordinary consumers.

Beijing authorities have ordered all of private venues in the city to be closed.

According to Zhang Yahong, head of the park administration department in Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry, 24 private sites with “operational problems” have been uncovered and two exclusive restaurants in Beihai Park have been shuttered.

Beijing’s Zizhuyuan Park removed fences and signs blocking visitors from entering the private club there, known as Wenyuelou. The club’s eatery has also cancelled minimum consumption limits and service charges, and removed delicacies like shark fin and abalone from the menu.

In Hangzhou City’s West Lake Park, authorities shut down five clubs and ordered ten more to close.

The party’s discipline watchdog banned party members and government leaders from entering private clubs last December. Regional authorities have echoed the central government’s strong stance, vowing to hand out severe punishments to officials who violate the rule.

Sources: Xinhua News, China Daily, Beijing News (新京报), Global Times


Hui Zhi is a Senior China Analyst with the China Compliance Digest, where a version of this post first appeared.

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