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Lavish funerals go up in smoke as China orders frugality
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Dec 19, 2013

Shanghai health official held, media cite GSK link
Shanghai (AFP) Dec 19, 2013 - A Shanghai health official has been arrested on suspicion of crime, local authorities said, with state media linking his downfall to the bribery scandal surrounding British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

Huang Fengping, who was suspended earlier this month as deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission for Health and Family Planning, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly committing a crime, the Shanghai Municipal People's Prosecution Service said in a one-sentence statement.

It gave no further details, but state media have reported that Huang allegedly accepted bribes in his earlier positions at local hospitals and might be involved in the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) commercial bribery case.

"Huang Fengping has close relatives working at GlaxoSmithKline and some family members have migrated to Canada," an unnamed source told the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper earlier this month.

Chinese authorities said in July that GSK staff had bribed government officials, pharmaceutical industry groups, hospitals and doctors to help sales of their products and increase prices for drugs.

State media quoted a public security bureau official as saying that GSK had transferred around 3 billion yuan ($490 million) to more than 700 travel agencies and consultancy firms since 2007.

Police have detained four top GSK executives as well as a British fraud investigator, Peter Humphrey, whose company has worked for GSK.

GSK says it is concerned about allegations of misconduct and is co-operating with the investigation.

The inquiry was launched at a time when China launched sweeping probes into alleged malpractice by foreign firms in various sectors, and against the backdrop of an anti-graft campaign backed by President Xi Jinping to root out corrupt officials from the party.

Huang has been removed from the list of leaders on the website of the local health commission.

Chinese officials have been ordered to tone down their increasingly extravagant funerals, state media said Thursday, as Beijing made clear its sweeping austerity crackdown applies even in death.

With concerns mounting that official funerals had become a "platform to show off wealth and connections", party members and officials have been instructed to "set an example with simple, civilised" ceremonies, the state Xinhua news agency reported.

Rising displays of opulence and a trend for the number of mourners in attendance to be seen as a sign of the deceased's "achievements" were sparking competition among the living, prompting Communist Party leaders to call for more modest ceremonies, it said.

Officials have also been banned from collecting "condolence money" from attendees and from "superstitious practices".

"Party members and officials should set an example with simple, civilized funerals," Xinhua quoted a document issued by China's State Council and the Communist Party's Central Committee as saying.

"No funeral parlours should be set up in resident communities, streets and public venues," the memo said. "Superstitious practices should be avoided."

The document also suggested officials donate their organs after death, choose "cremation or other environmentally-friendly form of disposal", and ensure gravestones do not exceed "set standards".

Land in cemeteries in Beijing and Shanghai can hit tens of thousands of US dollars per half-metre plot, exceeding even the cost of housing in the cities, Xinhua news agency said.

Beijing's year-long drive against the decadence practised by Communist Party officials has seen popular delicacy shark fin banned from banquets and party members warned over accepting expensive gifts such as traditional baijiu liquor.


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