Postcard from... Beijing

  • @cliffordcoonan

When China's ruling elite gather for their annual parliament in March, incoming President Xi Jinping has insisted there will be no display of extravagance further to raise hackles about official corruption. No booze, no banquets and no boring speeches.

Mr Xi has written a letter saying he wants cadres to be "diligent and thrifty" and to "honour frugality and shame extravagance". He will formally become President at the gathering, which starts on 5 March, having already been named Communist Party General Secretary and head of the army in November. The National People's Congress (NPC) will complete the transfer of power from President Hu Jintao.

Public anger about a raft of corruption scandals at the upper echelons of the ruling Communist Party has threatened to destabilise its grip on power, and Mr Xi has been busy promoting tighter control of graft and monitoring of cadres' behaviour.

The Standing Committee of the NPC has urged cadres to cut back on the banquets, keep speeches short, and try to avoid disrupting traffic during the meeting.

"Deputies will be encouraged to focus on key issues and avoid empty talk," ran a statement carried on the official news agency, Xinhua.

"There will be no flowers in deputies' hotel rooms and no welcoming ceremonies at the airport or railway stations. All deputies will eat at buffets without expensive food or alcohol, while extravagant galas, gifts and performances will not be arranged," it said.