China to auction off illegally built official buildings: State media

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China will seize and auction off government and Communist Party offices that are illegally built, state media reported on Monday, as part of a crackdown on extravagance and pervasive corruption.

"All official building projects that have not had inspections carried out according to regulations and where construction has started without permission must halt construction and be handed over for confiscation," the Xinhua news agency report.

"All official building projects that exceed (the regulated) size, violate standards, or are over budget should have the area that exceeds standards vacated and handed over within a limited time or be entirely confiscated and auctioned off," the agency said, citing new regulations to control spending and combat waste in Party and government organisations.

Numerous scandals in recent years have centred on extravagant expenditure on new government buildings by officials, often in poor inland regions.

Some local governments have embezzled poverty-alleviation and disaster-relief funds to build for themselves offices and other facilities that sometimes resemble resorts.

In July, the government ordered a five-year suspension of the construction of new official buildings.

President Xi Jinping, who took office in March, has spearheaded the fight on graft.

The party has been cracking down on everything from the use of government cars to liquor served at official banquets.

Similar orders in the past to rein in construction of over-the-top government buildings have had little apparent effect.