“Four dishes and a soup”

7 Mar

China’s president Xi Jinping is championing an austerity drive targeted at the elites, especially communist party officials. Previously China’s civil servants were known for their free spending habits and lavish lifestyles paid for by the tax payer. President Xi’s motive for this has been a fear that gluttony and excess will threaten the party’s continuing rule. High standing party members are encouraged to share hotel rooms, car pool and even to stop throwing the banquets which they are so famed for. Party officials who conspicuously flout the rules have been dismissed, all in an effort to try and improve the legitimacy of the communist party in the eyes of the people. Xi ‘s campaign has a new catchphrase “Four dishes and a soup”, emphasising his vision of restraint (Jacobs, 2013)

Those who are feeling the effects of Xi’s campaign most are the purveyors of the good life. Businesses ranging from restaurants and liquor stores to airlines have felt a dramatic reduction in business (Bloomberg, 2014). Even funeral homes have been feeling the pinch. May this have future effects on China’s growth?

The austerity drive is part of Xi’s wider campaign to crackdown on corruption amongst party officials. However there are doubts about the strength of efforts made to address deeper and more serious issues such as the concentration of wealth and power in the state owned economy (Jacobs, 2013). It may be the case that Xi’s austerity measures are deliberate way to distract attenion from addressing the real sources of corruption (Bloomerberg, 2014).

State run news Xinhua agency has revealed that lavish lifestyles continue but in much greater secrecy. A new catchphrase has emerged which subverts Xi’s which is “Eat quietly, take gently and play secretly” (Jacob, 2013).

 

 

Bloomberg, 2014 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-02/chinese-austerity-campaign-spreads-beyond-ferraris-to-funerals.html

Jacobs, A. 2013 Elite in China face austerity under Xi’s rule, The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/world/asia/xi-jinping-imposes-austerity-measures-on-chinas-elite.html?pagewanted=all    

 

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