Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Luxury Government Buildings Questioned

An article published in the Japanese Sankei Express (産経新聞) questioned the wisdom of a Chinese local government in Anhui Province for building luxury government buildings while leaving school kids under collapsing roofs.

Japanese funded for the rebuild of Yangzhuang Elementary School in Yingquan District, Fuyan of Anhui Province. A new teaching hall with 12 classrooms is being build thanks to $80,000 from Japan. Yangzhuang Elementary School applied for the grant in 2001. At the time, all but 4 classrooms in the 600 kids school are collapsing, and kids took classrooms under shaking bricks. They had applied for Chinese national educational grant earlier, but didn't get any. The application for international assistant was passed by the local government to the provincial government, and finally landed in the General-Consulate of Japan in Shanghai.

About the same time, the local government started building their luxury office building, which is often ridiculed by local residents as the 'white house'.

Japan sent in investigators to check out the condition, and they were shocked by the scene of hundreds of kids reading under falling roofs. The project was fully funded by Japanese Foreign Ministry's safety enhancement funds. The rebuild started in March of 2006, and finished by the end of the year. Now the school is the best building overseeing the village.

Japanese investigators published an article in the influential Sankei Express on June 22, 2007. Although they recommended the funding, but they argued that they were shocked by the excessive luxury of the office building used by the local government. The regional (county level) government's new office building is comparable to the Palace of Versailles in Paris. Its cost should be more than enough to rebuild hundreds of country schools. So what was it in local official's mind?

The article was noticed by Chinese Nanfang Daily in an investigative report. Despite the extreme poor condition of the building, the education system in the region is severely suffering from underfunding. Even teachers were not paid. The local Party boss, Mr. Zhang Zhian was reported receiving the position by bribing his county Party boss with $12,000. Nevertheless, he is still holding his position, and praised by his Party bosses.

Chinese have long been known as investing in education. However, that's only on the individual level done by individual families. The communisms government never behaves that way.

On the contrary, Japanese government place education the top priority. Education played a significant role in Japan's uprising in the late 19th century.

The question is: should the Japanese government take care of Chinese education, while the Chinese officials busy building luxury government buildings?

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