BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in Beijing have ordered high-end clubs in public park grounds to close or downgrade to an acceptable level, a move to curb officials' extravagance.
Business at two clubs in Beihai Park called Yushantang and Shanglinyuan, known for their luxurious decorations, expensive meals and services, has been suspended, according to a statement issued by the Beijing Municipal Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Wednesday.
Two other clubs in the grounds of Zizhuyuan and Longtan parks have been ordered to lower their prices so ordinary people can afford their services, it said.
There are 24 private clubs or high-end recreational venues in public park grounds in Beijing. The clubs have been ordered to move out of the parks when their leases end. The parks should not allow such clubs to operate within the grounds, as required by Beijing Municipal Government.
The move, led by the commission with support from landscape, cultural relics and park management government departments, targets "unhealthy practices in clubs" and has been incorporated into China's "mass-line" campaign.
The "mass-line" campaign was launched by the CPC Central Committee in June to bridge the gap between CPC officials and members, and the general public, while cleaning up undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.
Public opposition towards private clubs has been on the increase. They are often unlawfully built with public resources, sometimes in historical buildings, and frequented by the rich and powerful.
Xinhua reporters found last month that a single dish on Yushantang's menu cost as much as 10,000 yuan (1,654 U.S. dollars), or two months' salary for the average local.
"The meals there are meant for officials and the wealthy, not for us," said a senior citizen who was exercising in front of the club.
Jiangxi Province, Changsha in Hunan and Nanjing in Jiangsu, launched similar campaigns this month.
In a circular released by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the steering group of the CPC's "mass line" campaign in December, officials are ordered to shun high-end clubs to avoid extravagant practices and power-for-money or power-for-sex deals.
Kong Fanzhi, chief of the cultural relics bureau of Beijing, said fancy clubs in parks and historical buildings clearly invaded on public resources for the privileged.
"Parks and historical sites are public treasures, which should be open to the general public, rather than the privileged few," said Kong, also a member of the Beijing municipal committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body.
He said clubs in historical buildings went against cultural protection regulations.
Zeng Yuanji, also a political advisor and deputy head of the graduate school of the Communication University of China, suggests authorities investigate why such clubs were built inside public parks in the first place under the supervision of park management departments.
"The fundamental root for the misconduct should be found out and eradicated to curb corruption," he said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday stressed that the anti-graft fight is vital for the Party's integrity in the long term, urging independent and forceful supervision from disciplinary agencies.
"Preventing the Party from being corrupted in its long-term rule of the country is a major political mission. And we must do it right," said Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, when addressing the third plenary session of the CCDI of the CPC. The session closed Wednesday.
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