China will ban officials from consuming shark fin at government expense within three years, part of an ongoing effort to reduce corruption ahead of this year’s once in a decade leadership transition.
The ban, reported by the state-run CNTV on its website, comes after Premier Wen Jiabao in March called for an end to using public funds to purchase cigarettes and “high-end” alcohol. The latest move puts restrictions on a delicacy that conservationists blame for reducing the global shark population.
Chinese officials spent 408.5 billion yuan ($64 billion) on vehicle-related expenditures, 200 billion yuan on meals, and another 300 billion yuan on going abroad in 2004, China Central Television said on its website, citing the central Communist Party newspaper Study Times. The 200 billion yuan on meals is enough to build another Three Gorges Dam, it said.
A widening wealth gap and the ouster of Politburo member Bo Xilai in an alleged graft and murder scandal has fueled public outrage over official malfeasance. Wen in March said the regime risks its existence unless it addresses corruption.
Shark populations around the world are in rapid decline because of the demand for fins in Asia, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which estimates that more than 73 million sharks are killed each year, primarily for their fins.
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