China’s ruling Communist Party has listed golf and gluttony as violations for the first time as it tightens its rules to prevent officials from engaging in corrupt practices, while also turning an even sterner eye against sexual impropriety.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping crackdown on deep-rooted graft since taking over the party’s leadership in late 2012 and the presidency in 2013. Dozens of senior officials have been investigated or jailed.
Tales of graft and officials’ high living, including extravagant banquets, have prompted widespread public anger because bureaucrats are meant to live on modest sums and lead morally exemplary lives.
The new rules are an update of existing regulations and are designed to better codify exactly what constitutes a violation of discipline, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Wednesday.
They are applicable to all 88 million party members for the first time and also include a new ethical code, Xinhua said.
“Party members must separate public and private interests, put the public’s interest first, and work selflessly,” the report said. Party members must also “champion simplicity and guard against extravagance”.
“The new discipline regulation explicitly lists extravagant eating and drinking and playing golf as violations, which were not included previously,” it said.
The new rules talk about “improper sexual relations” with others, broadening the scope of proscriptions that had only referred to “keeping paramours and conducting adultery”.
The charge of adultery is frequently leveled at high-ranking graft suspects as a way of showing they are morally degenerate and deserve punishment.
The new regulations also include content banning the forming of “cliques” that seek to split the party, hiding personal issues that should be reported and abusing positions of power to seek gain for family members and staff.
While Xi has tried to improve the rule of law, the party has repeatedly refused to allow the establishment of an independent body to fight corruption. The party insists it can govern itself through its graft-busting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
Xie Chuntao, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said some members were not familiar with the Party’s rules and code of conduct, resulting in a tenuous relationship with the organization, which is a threat to the very fabric of the CPC.
Gao Bo, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that the new rules required officials not only to be honest in politics but also to concentrate on cultivating their own character and running a harmonious family.
Ma Huaide, vice-president of China University of Political Science and Law, said the biggest problems with the current disciplinary regulations, released in 2013, was that there was no clear boundary between Party discipline and laws.