The Global Times has published an investigation into the custom of throwing mass banquets and the “heavy financial burdens” they bring to local residents, even driving some away from their hometowns so desperate are they to avoid the feasts.
In Hefeng, a poverty-stricken county with a population of 220,000 in Central China’s Hubei Province, the local government banned people from extravagant feasts, save for marriages and funerals, in December last year, hoping to divert people’s attention to developing the local economy, rather than indulging in booze-fuelled banquets. Local banqueting culture had spiraled [sic] completely out of control. The Hefeng county government has estimated the ban helped save as many as 60 million yuan ($9.5 million).
Holding extravagant feats has become a tool for making money for some enterprising (and exploitative) individuals:
Some used gift money to amass funds to construct a house. They would hold the first banquet when they laid a building’s foundation, followed by other feasts to celebrate the completion of each story and the final completion of the house, local reports said.
Hefeng isn’t the only location that’s banned banquets. In Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality and Guizhou Province, local governments also issued bans on the extravagant feasts.
In November 2008, the Xiushan district government in Chongqing forbade officials from giving extravagant feasts. Anyone who violated the regulation would be removed from their post and couldn’t be promoted for three to five years, according to the regulation.