Projects built to earn face become a disgrace

By Jeff Pan (
Updated: 2007-02-25 17:09

-- Save face, or save money?

There is a convenient way to make a mountain green: paint it.

A rocky hill in Fumin County of Southwest China's Yunnan Province was painted green last year. A worker who took part in the painting of more than 1,000 square meters of bare rock revealed that the project took seven people 45 days, and cost 470,000 yuan (US$ 60,645), reported Star Daily on February 14.

A farmer walks by the rocky hill in Fumin County of Southwest China's Yunnan Province which was painted green last year.[Star Daily]

Sources say the county Bureau of Agriculture and Forestry originally initiated the project. Later, there were also reports that it was finished by a private business owner, who wanted to change the fengshui in the area, and it cost only about 10,000 yuan (US$ 1,290).

A netizen on who said his job was concerned with making budgets said that 10,000 yuan (US$ 1,290) would be hardly enough for the paint. Some even concluded that the "private business owner" was just used as a scapegoat after the project was picked up by the media and subjected to harsh criticism.

That would be an inconvenient way to save face.

A rocky hill in Fumin County of Southwest China's Yunnan Province was painted green last year. In the picture is an oil paint barrel left at the site.[Star Daily]

"Face projects", or projects that are built only to impress visitors or high-level officials, usually fail to meet the needs of common people.

The green mountain in Fumin County, providing nothing more than visual pleasure for local taxpayers, is located in one of China's poorer provinces. However, even the country's richest region sometimes cannot afford the luxury of face projects.

The Shanghai Oriental Art Center, which first opened to the public on December 25, 2004, cost 1.14 billion yuan (US$ 147 million). Nonetheless, its colossal ice stage has been used only once so far, partly because it costs 20,000 yuan (US$ 2,580) to produce the ice each time the stage is used, and partly because China currently has no professional ice ballet troupe.

A night view of the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.[CRI]

The daily maintenance of the art center also averages 90,000 (US$ 11,613). It takes two months to clean all the ceramic tiles in its inner decoration. To wash all the 4,700 pieces of the glass walls and ceilings, costs 40,000 yuan (US$ 5,161).

According to the People's Daily, The Shanghai Oriental Art Center is not the only project that has taken huge amounts of money to complete. The Hangzhou Grand Theater cost 900 million yuan (US$ 116), the Ningbo Grand Theater 619 million yuan (US$ 80 million), the Dongguan Grand Theater 600 million yuan (US$ 77 million), and the Qintai Grand Theater in Wuhan in Hubei Province cost one billion yuan (US$ 129 million).

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