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
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
The new U.S. deal with China on greenhouse gases faces enormous challenges in both countries. Jonathan Mann explains.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
November 3, 2014 -- Updated 0219 GMT (1019 HKT)
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 0500 GMT (1300 HKT)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT)
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
China sends an unmanned spacecraft to the moon and back but is country following an outdated recipe for superpower status?
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Full marks for ingenuity: Students employ high-tech gadgets worthy of a spy movie to pass national exam.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0526 GMT (1326 HKT)
Confucius Institutes seek to promote Chinese language and culture but some have accused them of "cultural imperialism."
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.
ADVERTISEMENT