BEIJING: China's most senior state culture official Friday lambasted local governments that spend money on "vanity projects" instead of cultural facilities and called for an end to "vulgar" publications.
Culture Minister Cai Wu criticized the trend of "vulgar productions" and "kitsch" in print and on electronic Chinese media, and lashed out at publications with gossip and sensational stories that advocate money worship and consumerism.
"We publish more than 300,000 books every year, but how many of them could be compared with the scriptures inherited from our ancestors?" asked Cai in an interview with Xinhua.
"We produce some 400 movies and hundreds of TV drama programs each year, but how many of them will be recognized as classics?" Some local governments had misspent their money building vanity projects, such as urban landmark buildings, instead of basic public culture facilities, he said.
"Some local governments and officials have neglected or ignored socialist cultural construction," said Cai.
The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2007 included "socialist cultural construction" in the Party's cause of building socilism with Chinese characteristics.
Overall government investment in the culture sector was low, with less than 1 percent of a provincial-level region's annual financial expenditures, he said.
The highest proportion was just 0.8 percent, while the lowest was a mere 0.31 percent, said Cai, without naming any specific governments.
"In today's world, a country's culture and economy are inseparable. A government must pay more attention to culture and originality if it wants to improve the quality of economic development," Cai said.
Cai, a former director of the State Council Information Office, said the vulgar publications were a side effect of market-oriented economic development, where a profit-oriented system passed off cheap entertainment as culture.
Cultural administrations at all levels should not turn a blind eye to the development of vulgar productions, but should guide cultural organizations to produce more healthy publications, Cai said.
Cai named no publications or programs, but the government has targeted matchmaking shows that portray merciless sarcasm and heated arguments between young people looking for partners or just seeking fame.
Tens of thousands of young men and women across the country have applied to participate in programs such as "Take Me Out" and "Run For Love," which attract millions of viewers on leading TV channels.