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China cracks down on building projects in anti-graft move

Source: Reuters - Tue, 23 Jul 2013 10:48 GMT
Author: Reuters
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In this 2012 file photo, migrant labourers work on scaffolding at a construction site in downtown Shanghai REUTERS/Aly Song
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BEIJING, July 23 (Reuters) - China on Tuesday ordered a five-year suspension of the construction of new official buildings, state media reported, in the latest move by President Xi Jinping to crack down on extravagance and pervasive corruption.

The decision was "made in accordance with the country's frugality campaign", official news agency Xinhua said.

Some structures built in violation of regulations had tainted the image of the Communist Party and stirred vehement public disapproval, the agency said.

"The directive called on all party and government bodies to be frugal and ensure that government spending goes toward developing the economy and boosting people's wellbeing," it added.

The ban also covered "glitzy structures" built as training centers, hotels or government motels, it said.

Numerous scandals in recent years have centred on extravagant expenditure on new government buildings by officials, often in poverty-struck inland regions.

Some local governments have embezzled poverty-alleviation and disaster-relief funds to build for themselves offices and other facilities that sometimes resemble high-end resorts.

Xi, who took office in March, has made the fight on graft a key objective of his administration, and the party has already targeted everything from the use of government cars to liquor served at official banquets.

Corruption is so bad it could hurt the party's grip on power, Xi has warned although so far few high-level officials have been caught in his dragnet and the party has shown no sign of wanting to set up an independent graft-fighting body.

Similar orders in the past to rein in construction of over-the-top government buildings have had little apparent effect. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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