Shaanxi province reiterated its resolution to fight excessive bureaucracy and root out graft, just months after the country brought to justice a large number of officials involved in massive villa projects built to the detriment of the environment.
While speaking on March 7 at a panel discussion during the ongoing gathering of the top legislature in Beijing, Liu Guozhong, governor of Shaanxi, pledged zero tolerance for corruption and misdeeds.
“We’ll track down any sign of corruption, and hunt down anyone involved,” he said.
The governor said he expects the political atmosphere in his province will improve over time as the anti-graft campaign goes on, and sustained efforts will be made to reinforce environmental protection within his jurisdiction.
Liu said 1,185 luxury villa units in the foothills of the Qinling Mountains have been demolished since July amid efforts to restore the ecological balance near a nature reserve on the outskirts of Xi’an, the provincial capital.
The mountains serve as a natural boundary between China’s north and south, and are home to a huge variety of plants and protected animals.
The governor said another nine villa complexes along with about 300 hectares of land were confiscated by the State. More than 200 hectares of land were returned to farmers, and another 176 hectares reforested.
The massive demolition beginning last summer was accompanied by the ouster of some of Shaanxi’s most powerful figures, including Zhao Zhengyong, former Party secretary of Shaanxi, and Wei Minzhou, a former senior legislator in the province.
An inspection team from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection－the nation’s top anti-graft body－found that villas began to appear near the reserve long before Zhao’s tenure as provincial Party chief, which ran from 2012 to 2016.
Local officials launched a high-profile campaign that year and tore down 202 illegal structures owned by farmers, but left the upscale villas untouched.
And apart from a failure to act in line with the central leadership’s directives, People’s Daily said the officials in question also approved additional real estate projects in the area.