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SWEETMEAT DEAL

The latest target of China’s anti-corruption drive is the humble mooncake

Chefs slice a giant mooncake measuring 8.15 meters in diameter and weighing approximately 22.5 metric tons for sale at a store in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning province September 9, 2007. The mooncake was made to celebrate the upcoming mid-autumn festival which falls on September 25. It costs about 10 yuan (1.33 USD) per 500 grams, local media reported. Picture taken September 9, 2007. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA) CHINA OUT - RTR1TP8S
Reuters/China Daily
Don’t use them to grease official palms
  • Kabir Chibber
By Kabir Chibber

Journalist

This article is more than 2 years old.

China’s anti-corruption drive has already cramped the style of government officials, who have had to get by with fewer lavish banquets and perks. The latest target: mooncakes, the sweet treat given in southern China as a gift during the Mid-Autumn festival, which starts Monday.

According to the main association of Wuchuan, the major center in Guangdong province, mooncake production is down 50% from last year, China Daily reports. The reason is a ban on using public funds to buy mooncakes. The edict was issued by the Communist Party of China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The government has a website where people can report mooncake-related corruption; egregious examples from the recent past include the gifting of mooncakes containing precious stones or stuffed with cash.

But even when just filled with the traditional red bean paste and egg yolks, the gift can be deemed excessive. In 2009, the director of a Hong Kong construction company that had applied for permits for road works was sentenced to two months in prison. His crime? He offered 15 boxes of the cakes to a team of undercover police officers.

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