There is no point preaching austerity if you aren’t willing to make sacrifices of your own. This may involve flying economy rather than corporate jet (those guys in the US auto industry would put Puritans to shame) or foregoing a fat pension package when those lower down the food chain are losing their jobs (apparently Sir Fred Goodwin, former chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, a British lender that bit of more than it could chew, is in denial about this).
China’s leaders are no strangers to austerity – a fair number of them grew up during times when the Communist Party routinely championed such behavior. Therefore it should come as no surprise that Beijing plans to scale back on sumptuous banquets for visiting foreign dignitaries.
“When our president … and prime minister invite foreign heads of state, during the state banquet the menu will not exceed one soup and three dishes,” said Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for the National People’s Congress. “No Chinese liquor will be served.”
Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, Andrea Merkel, et al – you have been warned. Never step inside the Great Hall of the People without a few sandwiches in your pocket. Will anyone really miss the Chinese liquor, though?