Chinese officials slammed for flushing US$31,000 from poverty reduction fund down the toilet

Communist Party mouthpiece criticises village cadres for failing to understand the needs of the people

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 3:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 4:02pm

Local government officials in a rural part of China have been criticised by state media for failing to serve the needs of ordinary people after it was revealed they had spent more than 200,000 yuan (US$31,000) building a “luxury” public toilet in an impoverished village.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made improving living standards one of the priorities of his second term in office, setting the goal of eradicating rural poverty by 2020.

Despite his lofty ambitions, a commentary in Monday’s People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, accused officials in the unidentified village of missing the point.

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“On a recent field trip, I discovered that new problems have emerged in the drive to improve infrastructure and facilities in rural villages,” Zhang Zhifeng said.

“In a poor village I went to, there was a well-decorated public toilet that the village officials told me cost 200,000 yuan, and that the money had come from the government’s poverty alleviation fund.”

Zhang said he also visited an elderly couple who complained that the squat toilet in their home had been ripped out – without their approval – and replaced with a sit-down, flushing model.

The couple said they preferred the original as it used less water and was easier to clean.

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“We should be practical as we try to improve the infrastructure of rural villages, and adapt according to the environment and the needs of the people,” the article said.

“To blindly build ‘luxury’ facilities will only cause embarrassment.”

Xi made a high-profile call in November for toilet facilities around the country to be upgraded as part of his drive to raise living standards in both urban and rural areas.