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Malfeasant feasts off China's frugal menu | Updated: 2014-03-20 15:42

China's frugality campaign is now more targeted and easier to enforce, with more detailed rules.

An end to extravagance at official dinner tables and good nutritional habits among the public are the objectives of a new guideline on food waste, covering receptions expenses, restaurants, government canteens and cafeterias.

In addition, there are rules specifying everything from the preferred forms of official dinners to the disposal of leftovers and kitchen waste. Authorities will no longer be allowed to organize banquets and stuff themselves in the name of meetings and training.

Supervision authorities will investigate restaurants and hotels to track down greedy officials from paper trails, promising severe punishment for gluttonous malfeasants.

With a large population and a scarcity of water and land, China has had a tight balance of food supply and demand for a long time, but flagrant food waste, the result of ostentatious lifestyles and poor supervision, remains a widespread feature of officials' lives. Munificent dinners in the guise of conferences and training days are staples of government officials' diets.

The new measures are just the latest anti-waste moves which have swept delicacies from dinner tables to overshadowed edacious galas since late 2012, when an eight point guideline on work styles -- formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance -- started eating into official voracity.

Last year, the broad picture became more detailed in many aspects, including food and gifts. Even the military was ordered to re-heat leftovers and eschew fancy food.

Last November, regulations standardized budget management for various ends, detailing 65 items, including travel, receptions, meetings, and use of official vehicles and buildings.

These increasingly detailed rules have effectively passed the pressure from the top to the bottom and from the government to the public. These rules will not only relieve some of the economic burden, but an end to extravagance and corruption would promote service-oriented government.

Supervision and inspection must clear the waste from dinner tables or these rules will be reduced to paper tigers, unfit for purpose.

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