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Tofu projects in China (2)

(China Daily)

09:08, October 24, 2011

Fengda Bridge in Fenghuang county, Hunan province, collapsed on Aug 13, 2007. It was to be completed at month's end for the 50th anniversary of the founding of Xiangxi autonomous prefecture. [Photo by Guo Guoquan/for China Daily]

These so-called tribute projects are intended to show the outside world what the particular region, or country in general, are capable of achieving. They have also been publicity ornaments used by local officials to boost their standing.

Logic would dictate that the projects be of high quality and capable of standing the test of time. However, construction is often shoddy, with sometimes fatal results, due to rushed deadlines, compromised standards and corruption.

Sources from the Henan Provincial People's Procuratorate, for example, said the province handled 909 construction corruption and bribery cases between January 2009 and May 2011.

The average citizen supports these gift projects if they are useful and the quality is good, said Xia Xueluan, a sociology professor at Peking University. If they can be started or completed on some memorable day, so much the better.

"But the fact is that quite a few of these projects are either poor in quality or are abandoned due to an impractical design that ruined the best intentions, and that disappoints the people," Xia said. Disappointment turns to public anger when the resulting problems are significant.

"It's time for the government to halt the tribute projects and let the buildings and other projects return to the nature of practicality and safety," he said.

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