China officials punished over European trip

BEIJING — China's state media says 33 officials have been punished for spending nearly $100,000 in public money on a two-week visit to Europe.
The officials from the salt business administration bureau in the southern island province of Hainan were among 515 public servants disciplined in Hainan last year. Just 36 were sent for prosecution while the remaining 479 received demerits.
China has been cracking down on lavish overseas trips by officials that include much time for sightseeing and shopping. The Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday the Hainan officials were required to pay back the 629,800 yuan ($95,730).
Lavish official tours to Las Vegas and other places cost taxpayers about 400 billion yuan ($58 billion) every year, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
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