By Xinhua writer Wang Aihua
BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- With a frugality storm sweeping China, people are wondering if the two annual political sessions in March, with criticism over the huge cost of security and accommodation, will offer a perfect test ground to show the top leadership means it.
Currently still a new phenomenon winning public applause, orders for official meetings and other events to reject extravagance should become a sustained common practice in the future.
In recent days, a new wave of cost-cutting, notably more limited choices of food, no red carpets or traffic controls, has been applied to the annual sessions of China's provincial legislatures and political advisory bodies.
In the southern province of Guangdong, a film star from Hong Kong who serves as a provincial political advisor even complained of still feeling hungry after eating a simple four-course meal.
Similar changes can also be seen in the meetings taking place in Beijing, with a much smaller variety of food and no red carpet for conferees.
These more economical meeting arrangements are obviously a mirror to the new leadership's resolve to remove extravagance from official events. They should, and will, become the new trend.
An imminent test of the sincerity of the leadership's talk will come at the annual sessions of the top legislature, the National People's Congress, and the top political advisory body, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, in March, when thousands of lawmakers and advisors convene in Beijing.
Often facing criticism about the huge sums lavished on such events, the annual legislative and political advisory sessions can help bring themselves closer to the public through simpler and more reasonable arrangements.
However, frugal meetings are just a beginning. The ultimate goal should be making public post holders inscribe frugality in all official activities, be it national meetings or inspection and investigation trips.
If officials grow accustomed to working and living simpler lifestyles, they will more likely refrain from corruption because there is no need to take money illegally.
Corruption has become a grave hurdle to China's further development and a threat to the government's public credit, particularly at a time when the Communist Party of China's new leader, Xi Jinping, has vowed further reform and opening up.
Over the past few months, several high-level officials have been removed from their posts for corruption, most of them owning several apartments, premium-brand watches and other luxury items.
In this new Internet era, it is not only morally responsible for officials to live frugally, but also a must because thousands of millions of eyes have put their behavior under much tighter public scrutiny.
Any improper showoff of personal wealth or abuse of power can put officials under public attack and further lead to disciplinary investigations.