China bans luxury gift adverts in austerity push

A woman shops for handbags at a Gucci luxury boutique at the IFC Mall in Shanghai June 4, 2012
Image caption Giving expensive gifts to officials is a new year tradition in China

China has announced a ban on radio and TV adverts which encourage extravagant gift-giving, saying they promote incorrect values, state media report.

The move is part of a government campaign to crack down on corruption and extravagance.

Expensive watches, gold coins and liquor are among the items affected, said the Xinhua news agency.

The giving of gifts, often to gain favour with officials, is common during lunar new year, which begins next week.

But China's TV watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft), said that adverts on some channels had been encouraging people to give luxury items.

This, it said, had promoted "incorrect values" and encouraged a bad social ethos, Xinhua reports.

It quoted a Sarft official as saying that the move was in response to repeated calls by the authorities for people to practise thrift and shun extravagance and waste.

New Communist party leader Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed the need to tackle corruption and has banned displays of extravagance at party and army functions.

The new restrictions coincide with a pledge by the government to tackle the growing and politically sensitive gap between rich and poor in the country.

Its plan includes raising the minimum wage to 40% of average urban salaries by 2015.

The government says that the reforms are necessary to make income distribution fairer. Correspondents say the move reflects Communist party concern that growing inequalities could threaten political stability.

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