BEIJING, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Liquor stocks are down sharply in China after its military, under new austerity steps, banned banquets where alcohol is served, industry experts say.
Under China's new leadership, headed by Xi Jinping, China's powerful Central Military Commission last Friday issued a number of regulations banning luxury-related activities where liquor is served such as receptions and banquets by high-ranking military officials.
Under these regulations, the official Xinhua News Agency reported there will also be no more welcome banners, red carpets, floral arrangements, soldier formations, performances and souvenirs during visits by military officials.
Xinhua reported Kweichow Moutai, a leading Chinese liquor producer whose product prices had soared in recent years, saw its stock nosedive 5.5 percent Monday, sending its market value down by $2 billion.
Wu Jianhua, secretary of the Shanghai Beverage Association, said the price of the company's Feitian Moutai liquor had risen to 1,519 yuan ($241.57) a bottle last year from 200 yuan ($31.81) 10 years ago.
"Moutai and another two high-level alcohol brands, which are popular with government officials and military officers, account for 20 percent of the total liquor market," said Jian Aihua, a researcher with CIConsulting, a leading industry research institution.
Xinhua said many online users welcomed the military regulations, saying they are needed to crack down on official extravagance.
"Besides the military officers, all government officials should be prohibited from drinking liquor during receptions and meetings," one user was quoted as saying.
Others called for more regulations including disclosing reception expenses and banning TV ads for liquor.
"If there were no alcohol advertisements, extravagant receptions featuring expensive liquor could be better controlled," said Wang Xuming, former spokesman for the Education Ministry.
Xi Jinping, the reform-minded general secretary of the Communist Party and chairman of the Central Military Commission, and the other six members of the Politburo Standing Committee, took over the leadership of the country for the next 10 years following the party's 18th Congress in November.
Immediately after taking charge, Xi, stressing the need to win people's trust and support, pledged to avoid extravagance, save on bureaucratic trips and take strong action against official corruption, a major problem facing China.
The new Central Committee Politburo announced there will be "no welcome banner, no red carpet, no floral arrangement or grand receptions for officials' visits."
The committee said leaders should listen more to the public and solve their problems. It asked that official meetings be made short and to the point "with no empty and rigmarole talks."