"Dubai-style" office stokes anger in China

Wed Dec 24, 2008 12:20am EST
 
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BEIJING (Reuters) - An overly luxurious government building in east China some are saying would be more appropriate in Dubai is stoking public anger about waste and corruption in times of economic crisis, Chinese media said on Wednesday.

The compound in Changxing county in Zhejiang, one of China's richest provinces, had an "unimaginably spectacular" night view with colored lights shining on the surrounding fountains and an artificial lake, said a report on government website china.com.cn.

"When I first saw it I thought I was looking at the Atlantis the Palm Hotel of Dubai," the site quoted a comment posted by an Internet user as saying.

The four buildings and attached facilities cost hundreds of millions of yuan and were being criticized as "an extremely typical extravagance and waste of money," the report said.

Beijing has issued numerous warnings in recent years to local governments not to build ostentatious public buildings with official funds, especially in the country's poorer inland regions.

Beijing has previously banned indoor gardens, multi-storey atriums and high-tech karaoke stages at government and Communist Party buildings.

In one case, the government in Zhanjiang in the southern province of Guangdong spent 11 million yuan ($1.6 million) on a fancy five-storey poverty relief office in which only 20 people worked, state media reported.

Some local governments have also embezzled poverty-alleviation and disaster-relief funds to put up luxurious offices and other facilities for themselves.

A county government in the quake-hit province of Sichuan was paying 1.8 million yuan to build sumptuous, over-elaborate bus stops, a local newspaper said.

"The stone pillars supporting the bus stations are five to six meters high and one bus stop alone uses more than 60 tonnes of stone," it said.

(Reporting by Liu Zhen and Beijing newsroom; Editing by Ben Blanchard)