Cost of decoration for PRC’s National Day slammed

AFP, BEIJING

Mon, Sep 30, 2013 - Page 5

A giant vase installed in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square ahead of a national holiday has met with scathing criticism from Chinese Internet users after a newspaper revealed its cost yesterday.

An enormous psychedelic-

looking pot topped with huge fake flowers and imitation peaches was installed on the square, the symbolic center of the Chinese state.

However, it came at a cost of more than 570,000 yuan (US$93,000), up 8,000 yuan from the previous two years, according to the state-run Beijing Youth Daily newspaper.

The cost prompted many critical comments among Chinese netizens — even though the overall cost of the decorations in the square for Chinese National Day had decreased.

“Who permitted spending taxpayer’s money in this way?” one user of a Chinese microblogging site wrote.

Another user wrote: “570,000! That money could be put to much better use.”

The overall costs for decorations surrounding the square have fallen by half, with money-saving measures including the use of 800,000 small flower pots, compared with 1 million last year, according to the report.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has touted a campaign to reduce government waste, introducing a ban on new government buildings and guidelines for banquets, after reports of corrupt officials indulging in wasteful lunches and unnecessary building projects.

A county in eastern China built a giant copper sculpture of a puffer fish at a cost of about 70 million yuan, reports said last week, arousing angry comments about government extravagance.

Tiananmen Square usually gets a makeover ahead of China’s National Day, which falls tomorrow and is a platform for the Chinese Communist Party to showcase its achievements and drum up nationalist sentiment.

The festival sees thousands of tourists from across China descend on the square, where former Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) preserved body is on display in a dedicated mausoleum.

A yellow crane lowered a fresh image of Mao — albeit identical to its predecessor — which stares out over the square, into position on Saturday as guards watched on, pictures showed.

The area around Tiananmen — meaning “gate of heavenly peace” — has been the site of key events in China’s history, including Mao’s announcement of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, and a government-led crackdown on student protesters in 1989, which saw perhaps thousands, killed.