Rural Chinese school 'demolished for $2 billion resort'

BEIJING (AFP) - A rural Chinese primary school built using charity money has been torn down to make way for a sprawling, US$1.6 billion (S$1.99 billion) "international resort", Chinese media reported on Monday, provoking outrage online.

The school, which mainly served children from farming families in Yanling county in central China's Hunan province, was torn down less than two years after it was built, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The 900,000 yuan (S$183,420) cost of construction had been funded by Project Hope, a charity group that promotes educational projects in poverty-stricken parts of China.

It had 28 students and they were now studying in prefabricated buildings within sight of the rubble of their former classrooms, the newspaper said.

The newspaper quoted Yanling county officials as saying the site will soon be home to the "Shennong Valley International Cultural Tourism Resort" a project with an estimated price tag of 10 billion yuan.

According to earlier state media reports, the "high-end cultural tourism" project includes health and fitness facilities, a museum and an "original ecological hotel".

Internet users condemned the project.

"Hope gives way to demolition, education gives way to corruption," wrote one user.

"Why was it necessary to demolish a school that was beloved by ordinary people?" wrote another.

"Development of tourism and stimulation of the economy is fine, but by all means, don't get rid of 'Hope'!"

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