China bans officials from moon cakes

AFP-JIJI

China has banned officials from buying moon cakes with public funds during an upcoming holiday, as the Communist leadership promotes its crackdown on corruption.

The pastry, a traditional food during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which this year falls on Sept. 19, has a sweet, heavy filling often made from lotus seed paste or red beans.

The cakes themselves are relatively cheap, at around 100 yuan ($16) for eight. But in a culture where personal connections are often the key to getting business done, Chinese holidays — National Day follows soon after — are often a chance for networking and sometimes for corruption.

The boxes in which moon cakes come have previously been used as a vehicle for payoffs. Sometimes they have even been made of gold and contain silver chopsticks, according to Chinese media reports.

“Sending moon cakes and other items as gifts purchased with public funds during the festivals is strictly prohibited,” the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement.