China bans shark fin soup from banquets

December 8, 2013 10:19 PM

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Updated: 08:53, Monday December 9, 2013

China has announced a ban on the serving of shark fin and bird's nest soup at official banquets, as part of a sweeping government crackdown on corruption and excessive spending.

Shark fin has effectively been off the menu at official dining tables since 2012 when Beijing pledged to bar the popular yet controversial delicacy as part of its anti-extravagance campaign.

Demand for shark fin has plummeted after many high-end hotels and restaurants stopped serving the dish, along with other expensive delicacies favoured by Communist Party officials such as abalone and bird's nest soup.

An order from the Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council 'explicitly ruled out dishes containing shark fins, bird nests and wild animal products in official reception dinners', the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

'Officials on business tours should arrange their own meals according to relevant expenditure standards and the local hosts are allowed to provide only one reception dinner if needed,' it said, citing the regulation.

The detailed document also bars expensive liquors and cigarettes from being offered at local authority receptions, as it aims to 'regulate' spending on receptions given by local authorities for visiting party or government officials, Xinhua said.

Officials below provincial level are also banned from renting hotel suites on business trips, while local hosts are forbidden to give them cash, securities or souvenirs as gifts.

Chinese officials have long held lavish liquor-drenched receptions as a way of building business relationships, greasing the wheels of power, and showing off wealth and status.

Shark-fin soup was once a luxury enjoyed by China's elite, but shark populations have been decimated around the world as the country's 1.3 billion people have grown wealthier and incorporated it into their festivities.

Hong Kong's government said in September it would stop serving shark fin at official functions as 'a good example', following years of lobbying by conservation group.

Source: skynews.com.au

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