A road in a poverty-stricken area of central China that cost nearly 1.6 billion yuan (approximately $250 million) in government poverty-relief funds has recently been revealed to be shoddily built.
Despite drastic improvements in standards of living, large swathes of China remain impoverished. According to World Bank data, about 493 million, or 36 percent of China’s population, still live on $5.50 a day or less. More than 43 million people currently live on less than 95 cents a day, according to the regime’s official data.
One of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s signature policy goals is to eradicate poverty completely by 2020. The Chinese regime has disbursed poverty-relief funds for local governments to assist poverty-stricken areas.
The Zheda Highway was a local infrastructure project meant to connect the poverty-stricken Dongxiang County in Linxia Prefecture, Gansu Province, to two nearby towns in Linxia City and Lanzhou City. The highway, 7,060 feet long, began construction in August 2009 and was completed in October 2011.
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) mouthpiece broadcaster CCTV reported on April 1 that since the road was completed, many residents complained of its poor quality. Locals called it a “watered down road.” After the highway collapsed last year, local authorities conducted an investigation, which revealed that the Kaole Tunnel—which is a part of the highway—had a serious safety problem: double-layered steel bars that were in the original design had been replaced with single-layer steel bars.
According to the CCTV report, the relevant government authorities had requested the tunnel be closed for renovations. The Highway Administration Bureau of Gansu Province issued a report claiming that on Nov. 10, 2017, construction had begun on the renovations, which would be completed by Nov. 28. However, locals revealed that the tunnel was not closed, nor was it repaired.
Inside the Kaole Tunnel, cracks formed in the roadbed and the walls, some as wide as a centimeter. However, those cracks were not filled. They were simply painted over, according to the report.
This kind of negligence is often the result of corruption among local officials in charge of so-called poverty relief, said Huang Liangtian, former editor-in-chief of the Chinese magazine Bai Xing, a Beijing-based monthly magazine. The publication—its name literally means “common people” in Chinese—reports mainly on social events and civil rights issues in China.
“Officials take money, and the contractors take money too,” Huang told New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD) on April 4. The Chinese broadcaster is a sister media of The Epoch Times.
“It is a very common phenomenon in China. Because the projects are under the name of poverty-alleviation, people are more sensitive and it attracts media attention. Actually, practically all construction projects in China involve corruption,” he added.
Currently, deputy bureau chief of the Gansu Province Highway Administration Bureau, Zhao Shuxue; the head and deputy head of the construction department within the Highway Administration Bureau, Liao Haidong and Yang Aimin, as well as three other officials have been suspended from their posts, pending investigation.
Tian Qizhuang, a China-based independent commentator on Chinese current affairs, told NTD in an interview that the Chinese regime’s poverty alleviation initiative has yielded lackluster results at actually helping citizens.
“What are the specific policies? They are neither transparent, nor monitored [for effectiveness]. We don’t know where the money [government funds] is spent, whether the projects are carried out, and who takes responsibility for carrying them out,” Tian said.
Huang also noted that in many impoverished areas, the area’s natural resources have been exploited by local authorities—leaving residents without the means to earn a livelihood from those resources. “To alleviate poverty, just give back their own benefits,” he said.