China's ruling Communist Party has listed golf, gluttony and engaging in "sexual relationships outside of marriage" as disciplinary violations for the first time as it tightens its rules to stop officials from engaging in corrupt practices, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has been cracking down on graft since taking over the party's leadership in late 2012. Since then dozens of senior officials have been investigated or jailed.
Tales of corruption and officials' high living, including extravagant banquets and playing golf — a sport closely associated with wealth — have stirred widespread public anger in a nation where bureaucrats are meant to live on modest sums and lead morally exemplary lives.
The new rules apply to all 88 million party members and are designed to codify more clearly what constitutes a violation. The new rules also update existing regulations. For example, Party members were already barred from "keeping paramours and conducting adultery" but the new rule on sexual activity is stricter, Xinhua said.
"Party members must separate public and private interests, put the public's interest first, and work selflessly," the Xinhua report said. Party members must also "champion simplicity and guard against extravagance."
Xinhua described the measures announced on Thursday as "a moral ethical code that members must abide by," but critics say they are part of an effort to target the president's opponents within the party.
Willy Lam, a writer on Chinese politics, told Al Jazeera that the latest regulations will be used as a tool to "attack and intimidate Xi's foes" in the ruling party.
"There has been infighting between Xi and other factions in the party," he said.
Willy added that the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which will enforce the rules, is led by a very close ally of the president and can choose who to punish arbitrarily without a system of checks and balances.
The document did not detail punishments for violating the new rules, but the party maintains its own internal disciplinary system, which operates without judicial oversight. Party discipline supersedes criminal law, Xinhua said.
Al Jazeera with Reuters