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Govt business trips more like vacations - blogger
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-29 09:15

SHANGHAI -- Two groups of government officials that went to the United States and Canada on "business" trips actually spent most of their time visiting tourist sites such as Niagara Falls, Hawaii and Las Vegas, an Internet blogger has claimed.

According to a report in Friday's Shanghai Morning Post, one group, from Xinyu, Jiangxi province, spent their trip visiting scenic spots in the United States and Canada, while the other, from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, spent seven days visiting tourist sites after just three days discussing business at an American university.

The accusations were first made public on Wednesday, in a post at by a man using the name "Chimei Wangliang 2009".

He claimed he had earlier found a bag on a Shanghai subway train containing the names of the travelers, itineraries, invitation letters and invoices addressed to the local government.

His post included 37 photographs he claimed to have taken of the documents.

"This could explain the government's high administrative costs," he wrote.

Chimei claimed the Xinyu group comprised 11 officials from a variety of government departments who were supposed to be visiting the US and Canada to look at human resources management systems.

The total cost of the trip was more than 330,000 yuan ($48,000), he said.

Among the documents was an invitation letter from Vancouver councilor, Don Lee.

It read: "During my two terms as a Vancouver city councilor, I have invited over 130 government official delegations from the People's Republic of China to Canada for the purpose of furthering relationships in cultural and educational exchanges, as well as strengthening the cooperation in trade and economic development."

Between May 15 and May 28, the group spent time in Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hawaii, Chimei claimed.

The Wenzhou Group, which comprised 23 government officials, said it was visiting the US for a training course, he said.

However, instead of spending 21 days training at Northwestern Polytechnic University, as officially claimed, the group actually went to Hawaii, Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco between Feb 13 and March 3, he said.

They also spent two nights at the Las Vegas' Sahara Hotel & Casino, at a cost of $700, he said.

The group spent just three days - Feb 27 to March 1 - at a training course at the university, he said.

Chimei said he had forwarded all of the documents to the disciplinary departments of the two provincial governments.

China Daily attempted to contact the two governments on Friday, but received no reply.

The Shanghai Morning Post quoted Luo Hongming, an official with the Xinyu publicity department, as saying that the government was aware of the claims and was investigating.

"If they are found to be true, the travelers will be asked to pay back all of the money," he said.

"And if anyone is found to have violated Party rules, we will refer them to the judicial department."