China's Official Reception Expenditures Reached 370 Billion Yuan in 2004

November 12, 2006 Updated: November 12, 2006

Official receptions have become the main accusation of corruption against China's officials. Fabricated reception expenditures cost the country billions of yuan, according to Long Taijiang, a professor at the Anti-Corruption Research Center at Hunan University in China's Hunan Province. In his article recently published in the Laiowang Weekly , Professor Long exposed the fact that official reception expenses are so huge that have far exceeded the official regulations on reception expenditure. Dining at extravagant restaurants, drinking costly wines, staying at luxury hotels, and other general entertainment at luxurious recreational facilities are now the norm.

Official receptions in 2004 cost the country 370 billion yuan (US$47 billion), he quoted from the Macro-policy Research Group, a subsidiary of the State Information Center of China.

Long said receipts are filled with various supposedly legitimate purposes. The receipts on restaurants are submitted as office stationeries, the office supplies are purchased in the name of documentation fees, and the gifts and travel costs are reimbursed as meeting expenses. The spending on prostitution and gambling is even reimbursed as reception fees. Though leaders in charge know the real situation, they turn a blind eye to the fraud.

Frequently, visits as an official duty transform into touring the country at public expenses. During official meetings, high quality and luxurious souvenirs are always supplied. It is also a common phenomenon for the officials to forge more expenditure on their receipts in order to receive more reimbursement.

Some officials even think wining or dining with public funds is acceptable since it does not count as embezzlement or bribery.

The standard for officials' daily expenditure on their duty trip doesn't change for years. An official at the provincial level or above has a nightly allowance of 60 yuan ($7.63), at the department or bureau level 50 yuan ($6.36), at the county level or higher 40 yuan ($5.09) and section chief or below 30 yuan ($3.82). The standard meal allowance for each day is 12 yuan ($1.53) for officials at all levels. These reimbursement standards are obviously devoiced from reality. Regulations for official guest receptions stipulate that menu for guests includes four dishes and one soup only, but the type and the price for each dish is not specified and restricted. Study Times , published by the School of the CCP Central Committee, revealed that in 2004 the squandering public money on restaurants was 200 billion yuan ($25 billion), the expenditure for official automobiles was 408.5 billion yuan ($52 billion) and the expenditure for official traveling abroad was 300 billion yuan ($38 billion).

The totals of the three expenditures, according to Study Times , are three times that of the agricultural-support expenditure, 43 times that of the basic living cost for laid-off workers by state-owned enterprises, 100 times that of disaster relief spending. Totally, it is sufficient money to support a three-year national defense budget, the education of 10 million college undergraduates, and feeding the entire poor population.

According to the financial Research Group in Laohekou City, Hubei Province, the reception spending by administrative units in 2000 reached 19.8 million yuan ($2.5 million), about 18 percent of the total expenditure of the municipal administrative units.

In addition, the officials of Fugu County, Shanxi Province once spent 8,813 yuan ($1,121) for one reception dinner, despite owing hundreds of million yuan in debt for transportation and city construction fees. Some officials in Lufeng County, Gunagdong Province spent up to150,000 yuan ($19,076) on a meal, and wining and dining of official guests with 30,000 to 50,000 yuan ($3,815-$6,359) is very common. The local residents say, “The cost of one meal for official guests could feed the common people for several years.”