China's ruling Communist Party has banned its members from "extravagant eating and drinking", engaging in "sexual relationships outside of marriage" and playing golf, state media reported.

The official Xinhua news agency 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 opponents of President Xi Jinping within the party.

Party members were already barred from "keeping paramours and conducting adultery" but the new rule on sexual activity is stricter, Xinhua said.

Playing golf - a favoured pastime of some officials which is also closely associated with wealth - and excessive eating and drinking were explicitly listed as violations of discipline for the first time, it added.

The regulations - which claim to apply to everyone in the 88-million-strong Communist Party - also forbid forming cliques within the party and nepotism.

Since ascending to the party leadership in 2012, Xi has launched a sweeping crackdown on corruption, with thousands of officials falling from power. But critics say Xi has used the campaign as a political purge targeting his opponents.

'Infighting in 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 is tasked with imposing the rules and led by a very close ally of the president, can choose who to punish arbitrarily - without a system of checks and balances.


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The document did not detail punishments for violating the new rules, but the party maintains its own feared internal disciplinary system, which operates without judicial oversight.

Party discipline superseded criminal law, Xinhua said.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies