The Chinese communist regime is known for controlling all aspects of society, including the Internet, religion, news outlets and how many children a couple can have. A county government in China recently took things one step further in capping the amount people can spend on weddings and funerals, two important Chinese traditions.
While the regulations were passed ostensibly in the name of inculcating frugality in the populace, Chinese citizens say they are targeted at corruption Communist Party officials, and mock the overly draconian measures.
Newly wed couples in the southwestern county of Jinyang in Sichuan Province are forbidden from accepting cash and gifts above 60,000 yuan (about $9,100) in value. Couples also may not hold more than one wedding banquet to celebrate their matrimony, and the no more than 69 tables can be opened at the banquet. Lastly, a maximum of 6 cars are allowed to ferry around the relatives of the bride and groom on the wedding day.
As for funerals, families may sacrifice no more than 10 cows, and the local authorities must grant permission of sacrifices above 5 cows. Paper money and confetti, as well as fireworks, are also forbidden. The funeral sacrifices and paraphernalia are a standard part of Chinese tradition for commemorating the dead since ancient times.
The new regulations are found in a document titled: “Jinyang County Government’s Guidelines on Limiting Extravagant Gifts and Expenditure for Weddings and Funerals,” according to People’s Daily Online, the Party mouthpiece, on Jan. 25. These regulations apply to both ordinary residents and Communist Party officials and cadres in the county.
On Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, Chinese netizens express their displeasure with astute observations.
“The government should just rein in Party officials,” wrote a netizen from Shanghai. “Don’t bother about the affairs of ordinary citizens.” Another netizen from Beijing said the habit of excessive banqueting among Party cadres should be curbed first. Some netizens also asked how an average Chinese family could receive a princely 60,000 yuan worth of wedding gifts.
“This is a typical case of an administrative order violating human rights and the law,” wrote netizen with the nickname “whenlfm” from Henan Province.
Zhu Xinxin, a former editor at the state-run Hebei People’s Radio Station, told Radio Free Asia in an interview: “On the surface, the guidelines appears to target a common social practice, but in fact it is a very authoritarian measure.”
“It simply reflects the government’s arrogance, and shows that it doesn’t even know the extent of its power or understand commonsense norms in society.”