China warns of mooncakes' ‘dark side’

SHANGHAI — China's crackdown on corruption is bringing the popularity of one autumn tradition back to earth: mooncakes.

President Xi Jinping has promised to go after "tigers and flies" in rooting out rampant graft, a campaign that has brought down politicians and company executives in industries including oil, cars and healthcare.

The campaign has also dragged down sales of high-end products from the fiery sorghum-based liquor, baijiu, to mooncakes, both traditional popular gifts for smoothing business and official ties.

Wang Qishan, secretary of China's anti-corruption watchdog, criticized the tradition of giving mooncakes as presents around the Mid-Autumn Festival, adding that the practice created opportunities for graft, the China Daily said.

In response, mooncake sales have taken a steep hit ahead of this month's festival. In key production regions, sales were half the level of last year, the China Daily said, citing the Wuchuan Association of Mooncakes.

Mr Wang was quoted as saying the government's "campaign against extravagance and corruption" would continue for at least five years, the official China Daily said.

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