March 31, 2015 / 5:14 AM / 5 years ago

China orders military to keep barracks simple, guard against excess

Chinese soldiers from an engineering unit wear the blue beret of the United Nations during a practice session at an army camp in Qinyang in Henan province September 15, 2007. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause

BEIJING (Reuters) - China ordered its military on Tuesday to build barracks as simply and economically as possible and avoid using ostentatious or imported building materials, as part of a broader crackdown on graft and excess.

China’s armed forces, the world’s largest, have become a focus of President Xi Jinping’s campaign to root out deeply-ingrained graft including bribery, which often takes the form of lavish gifts to officials or extravagant spending of government funds.

The guidelines on construction were in line with demands for the military to be thrifty and “guard against luxury”, the Defense Ministry said in an update to building rules carried on its website.

Colors used should be sober, plain and uniform, and new barracks must be well-connected to the Internet and be energy efficient, it said.

“Materials used should be economical, last a long time, look good and be useable,” the ministry said. “High end materials and luxurious construction is banned; put priority on using Chinese products, and high-end products from abroad are banned.”

The anti-graft drive in the military comes as Xi steps up efforts to modernize forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, though China has not fought a war in decades.

One former senior officer felled in Xi’s sweep, Gu Junshan, who had been deputy director of the army’s logistics department, had an obsession with gold, according to Chinese media reports.

China intensified its crackdown on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People’s Liberation Army from engaging in business. But the military has been involved in commercial dealings in recent years due to a lack of checks and balances, military analysts have said.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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