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China cracks down on vanity-project super skyscrapers

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Buildings are seen in Shenzhen

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has restricted the construction of extremely tall skyscrapers in smaller cities as part of a crackdown on wasteful vanity projects by local governments.

Without special approval, cities with populations of less than 3 million must not build skyscrapers taller than 150 metres (492.13 ft), and cities with larger populations must not construct buildings higher than 250 metres, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said on Tuesday.

The measures go further than an existing ban on buildings of more than 500 metres.

Officials who approve such projects in violation of the new rule "will be held accountable for life", the ministry said, which would mean officials were subject to any future punishment decided in relation to the breach of rules.

China has some of the tallest buildings in the world, including the 632-metre Shanghai Tower and the 599.1-metre Ping An Finance Center in Shenzhen.

While China acknowledges that high-rise buildings promote more intensive use of land resources, it is increasingly concerned that local officials are blindly pursuing construction with little attention to practicality and safety.

Earlier this year, a 356-metre, 71-storey tower in downtown Shenzhen repeatedly shook, raising concerns about safety. Investigations found the cause was a more than 50-metre tall mast on top of the building that moved in the wind.

Shortly after the incident, China imposed a nationwide ban in July on the construction of buildings exceeding 500 metres. The Shenzhen building reopened in September after the mast was dismantled.

Local governments must also inspect existing super-tall buildings, conducting checks on their foundation, structure, power, water and gas supply, the materials used, their resistance to earthquakes, and protection from fire, the ministry said.

Cities should also strictly control the construction of high-rise buildings in ecologically sensitive areas and on urban ventilation corridors, it said.

(Reporting by Albee Zhang and Ryan Woo; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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