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China bans new government buildings for five years

BEIJING, July 24 (UPI) -- Chinese authorities issued a five-year ban on construction of new government buildings to fight corruption and win public confidence.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday the ban also will apply to construction of training centers and hotels.

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The directive is described as part of an effort to build a clean government and strengthen the government's ties to the people.

The new government, led by reform-minded President Xi Jingping, has on various occasions stressed the need for frugality to win public support. The Xi government also has warned it would crack down on official corruption, seen as endemic amid China's growing riches and economic might, leading to much waste and public criticism.

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Showy and opulent government buildings are seen as examples of the growing problem. The new directive, however, comes at a time when China's economy has begun to show signs of weakening, raising concerns among the leaders.

A BBC report said one of the buildings that reportedly raised outrage is a state-owned drug company structure whose photographs showed decorations similar to France's Versailles palace with gold-tinted walls and chandeliers. It said some government agencies reportedly have built luxury offices in seaside resorts where officials stay free or at deeply discounted prices.

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Xinhua said the directive noted some government departments and localities have built office compounds in violation of regulations.

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"According to the directive, the construction, purchase, restoration or expansion of office compounds that is done in the guise of building repair or urban planning will be strictly forbidden," Xinhua said.

Party and government organizations also are banned from receiving any form of construction sponsorship or donations.

The directive, however, will not apply to cases where restoration is required to replace old facilities posing safety risks. But buildings with reception functions and catering facilities cannot be restored.

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