In its latest effort to stamp out high-end graft in mainland China, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection closed down another five private luxury clubs. So far, 30 upscale ‘Members only’ locales have put a lock on their doors as a result of President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption.
Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen are the latest three of the major hotspots in the entertainment industry that have seen its night scene evaporate, literally, overnight.
Luxury Clubs in China Hit By Graft Clampdown
The music suddenly went dead. The waiters disappeared in the background. Meanwhile, a dozen military uniforms, ignoring the ‘members only’ sign hanging beside the entrance, stormed through the gates. We can only paint a mental picture of what happened behind the closed doors of the luxury clubs in Guangzhou.
It’s not the best time to run a business catering to the moneyed officials in China. These are words that would have probably received a short laugh only a couple of years back. Nonetheless, China seems to hold strong to its commitment to fight corruption amongst government officials. In a high-profile crackdown on lavish gift-giving, banquets and luxury pads, President Xi Jinping has mainly targeted bribe and public funds-embezzling.
In a desperate attempt to avoid government scrutiny, rich cadres began dumping bags of luxury condos and prime estates at half the market price. It seems, however, that not all of them could give up on a night out in one of the most exclusive locals in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
A Membership Card to a Chinese Luxury Club Is a One-Way Ticket to Prison
It was here that Zhou Shaoqiang, the boss of a local state-run company, has consumed 12 bottles of Château Latour and Château Haut-Brion, some of the finest French wines. The bill that night, according to a report by Xinhua News agency, summed almost $12,000. Moreover, the official was allegedly paying fees of $30,000 per year just for a membership card at one club in Zhuhai.
According to The Mirror, a newspaper headquartered in Beijing, the city of Hangzhou saw more than 30 luxury clubs receive an ultimatum by the authorities. They were forced to choose between changing their business model and drop ‘shady’ prices or close their doors forever.
In an article covering the news, The Telegraph suggested luxury clubs in China act as a thick-veiled business ground for corrupt practices. The ‘Members only’ tag now carries negative undertones and it’s dangerously suggestive of graft.
The Chinese Iron-Hand Strikes Again
Ever since he took office three years ago, President Xi Jinping has enforced his campaign against some notorious officials and businessmen. They are accused of amassing great, unaccountable assets such as upscale properties and dozens of homes throughout the world, luxury cars, solid bank accounts and stakes in major companies.
While the campaign is gaining the president some future votes in popularity, many international observers have noticed a lack of transparency. Not to mention an overdose of the typical Chinese iron-hand attitude. The fear cadres feel of falling in the hands of Chinese authorities has sparked the suicide rate through the roof. In the last three years, over 150 officials chose to commit suicide rather than face life jail.
While luxury clubs entertaining Chinese corrupt cadres have closed their doors, others seem to have adjusted to the newly imposed regime. As long as they keep their opulence down a notch, they might actually fly under the President Xi Jinping’s corruption radar.