As millions of Chinese starve and suffer in a toxic atmosphere, the government has told its high-ranked officials to tone down increasingly extravagant funerals for the sake of austerity.

China’s state Xinhua news agency reported this week that many official funerals are now a “platform to show off wealth and connections,” and imploring rich party members to “set an example with simple, civilised” ceremonies.

The Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee said in a statement that it has seen funerals turned into opulent and extravagant affairs aimed only at attracting publicity and the most high-profile guests.

New rules are being imposed which ban state officials from collecting “condolence money” from attendees or engaging in “superstitious practices”.

The Chinese government suggests its staff donate their organs after death.

It also says “cremation or other environmentally-friendly form of disposal” is preferable and that gravestones should be within “set standards”.

The national news agency said burial plots are hot property, hitting costs of tens of thousands for a half metre plot. Many people are buried in more expensive real estate than most others can afford to live in.

The funeral crack-down is the latest in a year-long push to cut corruption and excess from China’s ruling elite.

Other measures have seen the ban of shark-fin dishes and expensive political gifts.