A township government in south China's Guangdong Province has broken from tradition by serving home brewed rice wine at government banquets, replacing the expensive liquor that is usually served at such events.
The township government Baishun started using the home brewed wine this year, triggering online debate over the expense of hosting extravagant banquets. While some netizens cheered the local government's effort to cut costs, others remain skeptical about its spending.
Ye Zhong, secretary of the town's Communist Party of China (CPC) committee, said Tuesday that the local government spends 4,000 yuan (640 U.S. dollars) monthly on expenses related to receiving government officials and investors who visit the town.
Ye Nanshan, a chef at the township government's cafeteria who is responsible for brewing the rice wine, said it is brewed using just sticky rice and water, making it far cheaper than the liquor that is usually served at banquets.
The township government consumes about 40 liters of the rice wine monthly, he said.
Lavish government banquets have been blamed for pushing up domestic liquor prices. A one-liter bottle of Kweichow Moutai, the "national liquor," goes for about 1,800 yuan.
Other extravagant items served at the banquets, such as shark fin and abalone, have been seen by the public as a sign of possible government corruption.
It has been estimated that the township government has saved about 4,000 yuan monthly by serving the locally made wine.
In July, the municipal government of Wenzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province was praised for banning luxury dishes at official receptions.
The city government's blacklist included sharkfin, premium liquor and high-end cigarettes.