Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

China bans government building projects to curb Versailles-esque excesses

By Paul Armstrong, CNN
July 25, 2013 -- Updated 0238 GMT (1038 HKT)
China's five-year ban on the construction of new government buildings is part of a larger effort by President Xi Jinping to control waste and corruption. China's five-year ban on the construction of new government buildings is part of a larger effort by President Xi Jinping to control waste and corruption.
HIDE CAPTION
China's state-sponsored luxury
China's state-sponsored luxury
China's state-sponsored luxury
China's state-sponsored luxury
China's state-sponsored luxury
China's state-sponsored luxury
China's state-sponsored luxury
China's state-sponsored luxury
China's state-sponsored luxury
China's state-sponsored luxury
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • China has imposed a five-year ban on the construction of new government buildings
  • State-owned pharmaceutical company has HQ that rivals Palace of Versailles
  • New directive part of Chinese government's pledge to curb official excesses
  • Corruptions and widening wealth gap is alienating much of the population

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Some state-run enterprises in China have opulent headquarters more suited to the court of Louis XIV of France, while other local government-owned buildings even replicate the home of the President of the United States.

Clearly, in recent decades, money has been no object in the world's second biggest economy.

But Beijing's bean counters, a more socially-aware bunch in recent times, have decided enough is enough and imposed a ban on the construction of new government buildings, according to state media.

A yawning gap between rich and poor and a social media-led backlash against corruption and official excesses, has made the ruling Communist Party led by President Xi Jinping all too aware of the perils of continuing down such a corrosive path.

China wants to ban govt. construction

Opinion: Corruption as China's top priority

And so the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council jointly issued a directive that calls for an across-the-board halt to the construction of new government buildings, training centers or hotels in the coming five years, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The directive accuses some departments and localities of breaking building regulations when approving, and calls on all CPC and government bodies to be "frugal and ensure that government funds and resources are spent on developing the economy and boosting the public's well-being," Xinhua said.

Expensive and unnecessary renovations will also be prohibited, with only projects that "erase safety risks" or "restore office functions," allowed.

In order to let the people live comfortably, the government has to tighten its belt and cut its own spending.
Professor Wang Yukai

Ominously, the directive says officials who approve banned projects should be "harshly punished."

Perhaps the best example of the type of extravagant constructions being targeted is in northeastern China, where the state-owned Harbin Pharmaceutical Group has its main offices. The remarkable complex is modeled on the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, France and features incredible ornate hallways with crystal chandeliers and gold paneling along the walls.

Since coming to power late last year, President Xi has made corruption and excess his chief targets.

In several speeches since he officially took over the reins of the Communist Party in November, he warned that corruption could lead to "the collapse of the Party and the downfall of the state."

He has repeatedly urged officials to "build a clean government, show self-discipline and restrain their relatives and associates."

According to Xinhua, the new building ban is an important part of "building a more transparent government and strengthening ties between the CPC and the public."

"In order to let the people live comfortably, the government has to tighten its belt and cut its own spending," said Professor Wang Yukai from the Chinese Academy of Governance, in quotes carried by Xinhua.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0929 GMT (1729 HKT)
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0538 GMT (1338 HKT)
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0545 GMT (1345 HKT)
Reforms to the grueling gaokao - the competitive college entrance examination - don't make the grade, says educator Jiang Xueqin.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
Beijing grapples with reports from Iraq that a Chinese national fighting for ISIS has been captured.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0200 GMT (1000 HKT)
CNN's David McKenzie has tasted everything from worms to grasshoppers while on the road; China's cockroaches are his latest culinary adventure.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 0057 GMT (0857 HKT)
Beijing rules only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
China warns the United States to end its military surveillance flights near Chinese territory.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0312 GMT (1112 HKT)
China has produced elite national athletes but some argue the emphasis on winning discourages children. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0513 GMT (1313 HKT)
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT)
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0452 GMT (1252 HKT)
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1942 GMT (0342 HKT)
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0410 GMT (1210 HKT)
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
ADVERTISEMENT