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The Chinese Art Of Balancing Budgets By Booking Vacations With Taxpayer Cash

One middle manager takes us inside an all-too-common practice: public offices that must spend their annual funding increasingly turn to travel agencies to set up all-expense-paid vacations for the whole staff. And of course, the big bosses get extra speci

A tourist bus in Beijing (unfoldedorigami)
A tourist bus in Beijing (unfoldedorigami)
Jia Yifang

Mr. Liu was just promoted to the job of deputy director of a small Investment Promotion Bureau in a northeast Chinese city that must remain nameless. Among Liu's end-of-the-year duties is balancing the bureau's books. Unlike offices elsewhere in the world these days, he did not face the problem of costs. Instead Liu had to figure out how to spend the leftover annual public funds. For if he couldn't spend it all, the bureau was bound to get much less money next year. All this extra cash: what a headache!

Fortunately a friend from a public department in the nearby city of Dalian offered an idea. "Take a trip abroad, and call it an official visit. Take all your staff. Not only will you spend the money, you'll have lots of fun!" The friend explained that his office had taken two recent "business trips' to Taiwan.

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Families wait for news of their missing relatives following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Barev!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where 21 are killed in a school shooting in Texas, Davos focuses on Ukraine, and a vertigo-inducing world record is broken at Mont-Saint-Michel. Die Welt also offers a psychoanalyst’s perspective on how war survivors pass trauma onto their children.

[*Armenian]

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