The disciplinary watchdog of the Communist Party of China (CPC) yesterday made public four cases in which local officials used public funds to construct extravagant official buildings.
A slew of officials were either removed or demoted as punishments, the CPC Central Commission of Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said.
The local government of Puyang, a poor county in Central China's Henan Province, was criticized for having built a magnificent office building, which was dubbed by some media reports as "Little Tian'anmen".
The building, which was budgeted to cost 9.75 million yuan ($1.3 million) and have an area of 15,000 sq m, ended up costing more than 32 million yuan and measured more than 18,700 sq m.
Officials were also found to have been "soliciting" money from other departments and pension funds to cover the cost of the construction, the CCDI said.
Eighteen county officials were punished, including He Guangbo, the former Party chief of Puyang.
In another case, Gao Zhixin, former head of the grain bureau of Shanxi Province, was sacked and put under investigation for the construction of a luxurious training center at the bureau, which cost 6.9 million yuan ($902,000), and a temple statue of a "grain god".
Officials from the finance bureau of Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province and the Xinzhou coal mine safety administration were also punished for building extravagant official buildings.
"It is not only squandering, but also reflects a kind of power abuse," said Liu Xirong, the CCDI's deputy secretary, adding that such buildings, which are often in sharp contrast to the shabby houses local people have to live in, have severely tarnished the image of the government and the Party.
"Besides the pleasure of inhabiting the buildings, some officials are even profiting from them by taking kickbacks from contractors," he said.