The government of a county in Sichuan province has decided that its banquet-crazy culture has gotten too out of hand, introducing regulations banning residents from holding banquets in all but a few limited cases. As you might expect, some residents are ready to fight for their right to party!
The government of Tongjiang County in northeastern Sichuan declared in late July that residents may only hold banquets on three special occasions: weddings, funerals and birthdays for those more than 70 years old. Even those lucky seniors are restricted to only one birthday bash per decade. Retired civil servants aren’t allowed to hold birthday banquets at all.
According to Xinhua, the new regulations require residents who want to hold weddings or birthday banquets to get approval 15 days in advance by showing proof of marriage or age. Apparently holding a funeral can be a bit more of a spur of the moment affair though.
A local official told Xinhua that the new rules are designed to stop extravagance practiced widely by civil servants and locals, and to encourage people to live more within their means. Wait, what year is it?
Tongjiang may be an impoverished county, but residents apparently like to party hard and in extreme opulence. The county government says that residents in one township with an average annual income of just 4,800 yuan spend an incredible 20,000 yuan a year on gifts for various banquets.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Wang Jing, the head of the Tongjiang county foreign affairs office, added that “small-scale birthday parties” for those in their 50s or 60s, with only three or five tables of family members or friends, wouldn’t be a problem. So that should be enough to satisfy everyone.
Wang said that many locals despise all the kinds of parties they have to attend anyway. The government is merely rescuing them the vicious circle they are trapped in.
“Birthdays, marriages, funerals, college admissions, people in this county hold banquets for anything and everything,” said one local resident. “You suffer heavy losses if you send gifts, usually money, to others but don’t hold such banquets yourself.”
County officials are being criticized as real party poopers online for their new measure, with many netizens commenting that while they may have good intentions, the regulations simply go too far and curtail individual freedom. They argue that the rules should apply only to civil servants not regular party-loving people.
“Does this mean that those who fail to survive for 70 years can’t hold a birthday party in their entire life?” asked one netizen.
Xinhua reports that the government of Tongjiang County has asked the relevant departments to go back and adjust the wording of the new regulation.
So it looks like the party might be back on!
by Alex Linder