Local authorities in east China's Anhui Province have defended the scale of a government building under construction after Internet users accused the building of being "eight times as large as the U.S. White House."
A post on Tianya.com, one of China's most popular Internet forums, showed a picture of the new government building in Wangjiang County of Anqing City, and wrote that the building was too large and luxurious for the small, impoverished county. The post ignited a flurry of online outrage.
The luxuriously decorated building will occupy 182 mu (about 12 hectares) of farmland and the total construction area amounts to 43,600 square meters, figures sharply contrasting the county's embarrassing fiscal situation, according to the post.
The city government had dispatched an inspection team to evaluate the construction of the building, according to Wang Bing, an official in charge of discipline, inspection and supervision of Anqing City.
The scope of the construction had been approved by the provincial development and reform commission, Wang added.
Meanwhile, Wang cited some violations, including an incomplete approval process, and said the city government had properly handled the luxurious decorations.
The building is a multi-functional compound that includes not only government offices, but also public facilities such as a library, museum, and an activity center for local residents, and the county government has compensated local farmers for all the farmland it acquires, Wang said.
However, some are not satisfied with the government's reply.
Internet user Fang Wei said, "I don't understand why no official in the county government has been held accountable for the violation and I'm still quite in doubt with the city government's conclusion."
Pictures of fancy local government buildings of some other counties and cities, including the Wangjiang County government building, were also posted online.
China has seen a series of media reports and online discussions regarding luxurious local government buildings in recent years, and the central government has tightened rules about such plans for government buildings.
However, some local governments continue spending extravagantly on office buildings while ignoring national rules and regulations, the Global Times reported on Wednesday, citing Du Xiaoshan, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.