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China official suspended over pig trotter banquet bills

image captionPigs trotters are considered as a delicacy in Chinese cooking

A Communist Party official in China has been suspended after running up huge unpaid bills at a pig trotter restaurant, state media report.

Han Junhong racked up bills totalling 700,000 yuan ($115,000; £71,000) over three years, the Global Times said.

The cash shortfall forced the restaurant's owner to close its doors.

The case, which provoked a storm of criticism on social networks, is the latest example of abuse of power and runaway spending by Chinese officials.

Earlier this month, it emerged that a giant pufferfish viewing tower had been built for a horticultural exhibition in the eastern province of Jiangsu at a cost of 70m yuan ($11.5m; £7.1m).

Austerity drive

Mr Han, party secretary of Wangluo, a small town in the central province of Henan, racked up the bills while entertaining guests at the pig trotter restaurant.

The restaurant - whose signature dish is braised forelimb in brown sauce - is a designated venue for official functions in the town, the Global Times reported.

The paper offered no details on the breakdown of the bills - such as how many trotters had been consumed.

The case caught the attention of state media after being exposed by a user of Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter.

Mr Han had been suspended from his post pending a disciplinary investigation, the Global Times said, adding that his bills had also been settled.

Another state newspaper, Beijing News, quoted the restaurant's owner, Geng Weijie, as saying: "I am seriously ill, I have a small child, and my family has debts to pay."

Chinese president Xi Jinping has ordered an austerity drive by Communist Party and government officials. Measures include ordering no more than "four dishes and a soup" at banquets.

However, high-profile cases of wasteful spending and corruption persist.

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