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Wen fires alcohol, tobacco warning (South China Morning Post)

Bloomberg in Beijing
Mar 28, 2012
Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to ban the use of public funds to buy cigarettes and “high-end” alcohol, warning that corruption may endanger the Communist Party’s survival.

Wen, at a State Council meeting yesterday, also said state-owned enterprises and agencies must strictly control funds used to renovate luxury office buildings or buy artwork, a statement on the government’s website said.

“Corruption is the biggest danger facing the ruling party,” Wen said, according to the statement. “If not dealt with properly, the problem may change the nature of, or terminate, the political regime.”

Wen, who didn’t give specific cases or identify any officials, earlier this month said the mainland must continue overhauling its political system or risk a return to the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.

Consumption by government officials using public funds has helped push up the prices of products such as China Kweichow Moutai 106-proof liquor. Mao-tai, the sorghum-based liquor that Premier Zhou Enlai used to toast visiting US president Richard Nixon in 1972, sometimes sells for twice the maximum retail price set by the company.

A half-litre bottle of Flying Moutai, the company’s best-selling brand, costs 1,980 yuan (HK$2,430), the Sam’s Club online shopping website shows.

China Kweichow Moutai fell 6.4 per cent in Shanghai trading, the biggest drop in two months. Rival Wuliangye Yibin dropped 6.5 per cent in Shenzhen, also the biggest drop since January.

Wen, due to step down next March after his second five-year term, said yesterday government agencies must publish detailed information about spending related to car purchases and use, and overseas travel.

State-owned enterprises and financial institutions should not sponsor events unrelated to their businesses, he said.

Sun Liping, a sociology professor at Tsinghua University, said the number of mainland protests, including strikes and demonstrations, rose to at least 180,000 in 2010, double the number four years earlier.

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