China probes illegally built government offices

Updated: 2007-08-08 11:01

BEIJING - China has sent investigators to 30 provinces to probe illegaly built government offices after a spate of scandals over luxurious buildings appearing in poverty-struck areas, Chinese media said on Wednesday.

It is the latest crackdown on graft by the Communist Party, which has warned the problem is so severe it may threaten its own hold on power.

It is also the latest warning in as many months about ostentatious public buildings being put up with official funds, especially in the country's poorer inland regions. "Governments must earnestly carry out rectification work and deal with problems found in the investigation," the Beijing News said, citing minutes from a meeting.

In the latest case, the government in Zhanjiang in the southern province of Guangdong spent 11 million yuan ($1.45 million) on a five-storey poverty relief office in which only 20 people worked, the newspaper said.

It published a picture of the fancy new building, fronted by a carefully manicured garden, alongside a photo of a rundown shack in the same neighbourhood.

The local government is now being investigated for allowing the office to be built, which is also twice the size it was originally planned to be and cost more than double the original budget, the report said.

Beijing has previously banned indoor gardens, multi-storey atriums and high-tech karaoke stages at government and party buildings.

($1=7.569 Yuan)

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