Chinese austerity, sort of

China has banned the construction of government offices for the next five years, ratcheting up an austerity campaign that has already taken a toll on the economy.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, and the Communist party late on Tuesday said the ban, which takes immediate effect, would also apply to the expansion of existing buildings.

They seem to mean it, and in part they wish to improve the moral image of Chinese government.  Here is a bit of background:

Beijing has previously tried to stop local governments from building massive new offices, but only with limited success. Even in poorer parts of China, cities and villages have built monolithic offices, replicas of the US Capitol building and faux-European palaces. In one notorious case, the government of the poor Yingquan district in Anhui province spent a third of its budget on a White House replica.

Under the new ban, renovations of outdated offices will be permitted, but the approval process will be extremely strict and there will be no tolerance for “luxurious decorations”.

The full FT story is here.


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