Extravagant image projects criticized

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The construction of extravagant cultural facilities as image boosters has not only wasted public money but also aggravated popular discontent, the country's top political advisers have said.

During the ongoing National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) session, members have criticized the fad in which local governments pour vast sums of money into cultural image projects, such as grand theaters and museums, while ignoring the people's real needs.

Government spending on cultural development has never exceeded 0.5 percent of the total budget over the past decade. And more than 70 percent of the funds have been distributed to urban areas, said Zhang Daning, deputy director of CPPCC's committee for education, science, culture, sport and health.

Many city governments spent the money to build large cultural landmarks to boost the local image, but ordinary people have benefited little from these projects, Zhang said at a plenary meeting on Wednesday.

Zhang's remarks were echoed by CPPCC National Committee member Chen Li, who is also a deputy curator of the National Library, at a subsequent group discussion.

Chen said he saw few readers during a visit to a Central China city's grand library, which is located in the city's new development zone, far from the downtown.

"Many city governments are busy developing new economic zones and have set up fancy cultural sites there," Chen was quoted by China Youth Daily as saying.

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