Chinese state-owned pharm company’s interior design similar to Palace of Versailles
Several photos of sumptuous offices owned by Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Sixth Pharm Factory have become viral on Chinese internet, showing Versailles-style furnishings and domes and hallways decorated with gold-plated woodcarving. The state-owned company was soon met with a barrage of online criticism for its extravagance and waste of public funds. However, a person in charge, while acknowledging the building as theirs, argued that those rooms are not used as offices; instead, they are exhibition rooms of a museum they have built to house woodblock prints.
Li Xiaomeng, a CCTV reporter, wrote on her microblog that Harbin Sixth Pharm Factory is a state-owned enterprises and thereby enjoy a tax benefit as low as 5% of their profit granted by the state. “They say state-owned enterprises are owned by the people. People should know where the profit went. Is this palace what people like to see?”
A Weibo user associated the photos with Harbin Sixth Pharm Factory’s pollution incident back in August, saying that “They claimed they didn’t have the ability to handle their own waste. It turns out they have spent money on luxurious interior decoration. That also explains why the drug prices always stay so high.”
In August, Harbin Sixth Pharm Factory’s parent company, the pharmaceutical group, one of China’s largest drug producers, was ordered to pay a hefty fine for gas emissions that did not meet environmental requirements.
Confronted with public uproar over its huge spending on facelift, a person in charge said, “I think the photos on the Internet is perhaps deliberately smearing our image, because the scenes presented in the photos are our woodblock print museum, and the exhibits were completely missing in the photos. They seem to create the false impression on purpose that the office environment is very luxurious.”
This person, who did not give his name, explained that the intention to build this edifice is to promote social cause in the fields of culture and art as the company has been growing and expanding over the past years. “Heilongjiang (province) is the birthplace of Beidahuang woodblock paintings. However, the genre is going downhill in recent years. To assist its development better, Harbin Sixth Pharm Factory decided to establish a woodblock print museum.” He said the main building of the factory was built in November, 2004. The bottom three levels of the six-storied building are office area whereas the top three levels are used as the museum. “The furnishing and decoration of the office area is very simple. Only the museum was designed to be more artistic.”
When the reported bombarded him with questions like “Isn’t it very inappropriate for a state-owned enterprise to build such a deluxe museum,” and “If it was for promoting social cause, why not save the money and invest it directly in talent development,” he simply replied, “Your suggestion is quite good.”
However, photos of the museum on the factory’s official website only shows ordinary white walls, which are distinctly different from the decor that drew fire.
A photo of the museum showcasing woodblock paintings posted on the factory’s official website.
The palace-like office building is not the only controversy that surrounds the pharmaceutical company. On August 30, China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine publicized a list of substandard mineral water products on its official website. Harbin Sixth Pharm Factory’s bottled water made the list for containing the carcinogenic chemical bromate.