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China bans shark fin dishes at official banquets

By Naomi Ng, for CNN
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
Shark finning is banned in several countries, but the trade is flourishing in Hong Kong, where the fins are used in shark fin soup, a dish considered a prestigious delicacy, and in some types of traditional Chinese medicine. Hong Kong accounts for 50% of the global shark fin trade, according to the<a href='http://www.wwf.org.hk' target='_blank'> WWF</a>. Shark finning is banned in several countries, but the trade is flourishing in Hong Kong, where the fins are used in shark fin soup, a dish considered a prestigious delicacy, and in some types of traditional Chinese medicine. Hong Kong accounts for 50% of the global shark fin trade, according to the WWF.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • China bans serving of shark fin and bird's nest soup at official banquets
  • Part of government crackdown on official extravagance
  • Ban also includes the serving of cigarettes and up-market liquors

Hong Kong (CNN) -- China has banned dishes containing delicacies like shark fin and and bird's nest from official banquets as part of a government crackdown on official extravagance.

Chinese authorities published new regulations that "explicitly ruled out dishes containing shark fins, bird nests and wild animal products in official reception dinners," the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Xinhua also said that cigarettes and up-market liquors are not allowed to be served at official dinners and officials below provincial level should not stay in hotel suites on business trips.

The new rules aim to "regulate the use of public funding on receptions," Xinhua added.

President Xi Jinping has made tackling official corruption a priority since taking power earlier this year.

In September, the government announced that officials would not be able to use public money to send mooncakes as gifts - a traditional part of China's Mid Autumn Festival celebrations.

READ: More airlines ban shark fin cargo

Some hotels in Hong Kong and China have also removed shark's fin soup from their menus and airlines like, Cathay Pacific, have banned the product from cargo holds.

Up to 73 million sharks are estimated to be killed each year, according to a 2006 academic study quoted on the website of campaign group Hong Kong Shark Foundation. Their carcasses are usually discarded and campaigners say the practice is wasteful and cruel.

READ: China plans banquet ban on shark fin

Shark's fin soup is widely served in restaurants in Chinese communities worldwide and is a dish often served at weddings to mark the importance of the occasion and impress the couple's extended families and friends.

Shark fins off the menu at top hotel


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