Residents gather for a banquet in Anshun, Guizhou province. (QIAO QIMING/FOR CHINA DAILY)
A city in Southwest China has banned locals from hosting elaborate banquets as a way of reducing food waste and preventing unnecessary expenditure.
There are many government departments in China, both local and central, but few have a brief as unusual as the department that regulates the number of banquets local residents are allowed to host in Anshun, a city in Guizhou province, Southwest China.
The office may sound like a joke, but the problem it was set up to address is anything but amusing. The exorbitant number of banquets being held resulted in lost work hours and a huge waste of food. Moreover, people were gradually sliding into poverty because of the large amounts of money they were expected to hand over to the hosts as cash gifts, a must when attending a banquet in the city.
A "banquet ban" team was established in February last year in Puding county, which has a population of more than 470,000 and is one of six counties or county-level districts in the city, which is home to about 2.3 million. The county, which is administered by the Anshun government, also set up an office for the team in the building that houses the local commission to guide cultural and ethical progress.
The crackdown, which was overseen by the local commission for discipline inspection, was initially part of the central government's anti-corruption campaign and was aimed at regulating the behavior of public servants. However, the city government was dismayed to discover that the number of banquets being held by local residents was rising sharply, even as the campaign against official waste began to bite.