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China graft busters on alert for pricey mooncakes

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned officials not to spend public funds on extravagant banquets or gifts as the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches.

The Mid-Autumn Festival (September 27 this year) ranks second among China’s holiday sales periods, after the Lunar New Year.

Round cakes filled with ingredients such as red bean paste and salted duck eggs are part of festival celebration and widely offered as gifts among friends, government officials and business people.

In 2011, mainland consumers spent around 15 billion yuan ($2.45 billion) on the Mid-Autumn Festival’s traditional delicacy, with over 10,000 manufacturers producing more than 280,000 metric tons of mooncakes, according to data from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

The mooncake business has been hit by President Xi Jinping’s anti-extravagance campaign, forcing some mooncake manufacturers to shut down.

Government officials are strictly banned from using public funds to purchase mooncakes or gifts, Xi said.

Anti-graft authorities have encouraged the public and media to report violators.

“Luxury mooncakes have come back in spite of the austerity campaign that has lasted for three years. We are cracking down extravagancy instead of normal mooncake business and consumers’ demand,” said Xiao Pei, the vice Minister of Supervision.

Sources: China Youth Daily (中国青年报), CNBC, International Business Times

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Hui Zhi is the Senior Manager for Content with ethiXbase Pte Ltd.

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