No flowers, no banquets, no gifts, no welcoming ceremonies and, more importantly, no useless long-winded speeches. Chinese state media laid out strict instructions yesterday for this year’s annual meeting of parliament.

Normally a bastion of sycophancy, as the hand-picked delegates seek to out-compete each other in lauding the Communist Party, the official Xinhua news agency said that would change when the largely rubber stamp parliament meets in March.

Incoming president Xi Jinping has made cutting back on extravagance and waste a key theme of his term in office since becoming party chief last November, seeking to assuage anger at corruption and restore faith in the party.

“Deputies will be encouraged to focus on key issues and avoid empty talk,” Xinhua cited a government statement as saying.

“There will be no flowers in deputies’ hotel rooms and no welcoming ceremonies at the airport or railway stations.

“Deputies will eat at buffets without expensive food or alcohol. Extravagant galas, gifts and performances will not be arranged.”

Unpopular transport controls, which include shutting down the busy main road that bisects Beijing and worsening already terrible traffic, would also be kept to a minimum, Xinhua said.

Still, parliament is unlikely to be dull, as it will mark Xi’s formal assumption of the title of president and the beginning of a new generation of leaders. – Reuters