China’s Anti-Graft Drive Bites: No More Having Your Mooncake and Eating It Too

World

Mooncakes are the fruitcake of China, a dutifully received yet largely unloved holiday comestible. The pastries circulate around the Mid-Autumn Festival, a lunar celebration that this year begins on Sept. 19. But since China’s leader Xi Jinping unveiled a campaign to combat official graft and lavish living, conspicuous consumption has become a lot less conspicuous. Even the popularity of the poor mooncake — with its red-bean or lotus-seed filling or the more extravagant abalone, bird’s nest or gold-leaf varieties — has been affected.

On Aug. 22, the Chinese Communist Party’s central discipline committee prohibited the use of public funds to purchase mooncakes — and associated gifts — during this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival. Vice Premier Wang Qishan, head of the discipline body, weighed in on the subject of the weighty, calorie-rich treats: “Decadent styles have polluted our festival culture in recent years with the sending of increasingly extravagant gifts.” Hu Bin…

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