Friday, 18 April 2014

Man dies after drinking excessively while celebrating new job

A Chinese official died of alcohol poisoning after dining with colleagues to celebrate his first day at work.

Zhong Xiefei, who had just been named deputy chief of Qianjiang township in Laibin city in the central Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region died of excessive drinking.

Seven other officials who drank with him have been fired, the state-run China News Service reported.

Zhong showed up for work on April 9 and began to drink rice wine during lunch with other provincial and county-level officials. That night Zhong's family found him asleep and snoring loudly, but saw nothing to suggest he was excessively drunk. He was found dead the next morning.

District officials met on Monday to discuss the incident and figure out ways to discipline other officials involved.

Since President Xi Jinping took power in 2013, the leadership has been trying to rein in cadres' excessive behaviour and curtail wasteful spending.

Sales of expensive liquor such as the popular Maotai have dropped.

Despite the campaign, drinking remains customary at many official lunches and dinners.

A recent study found the number of official banquets had fallen sharply.

Xi's year-long campaign has cut down expenditures and also improved efficiency by "setting officials free" from attending such events, Zhang Zhongliang, director of the statistical education centre with the National Bureau of Statistics, was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post.

He said county-level officials, who typically spent the most time at banquets among all ranks of government, on average attended 12.2 banquets per week last year, down from about 18 in 2012.

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