Tue, Jul 13, 2010 - Page 1 News List

New rules target Chinese officials’ endemic corruption


China issued new rules requiring officials in government and state companies to report everything from personal assets to the business activities of spouses and children, in a renewed attempt to quash endemic corruption Beijing sees as a threat to its rule.

The new regulations that went into effect on Sunday are similar to rules released in April governing senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, but have been expanded to include everyone from midlevel officials and up. Nonparty members and those working for state-owned business are now also required to submit their details.

Ordinary Chinese frequently complain about official corruption and the CCP leadership recognizes it is a major threat to political stability. The regulation appears designed to prevent officials from hiding illicit income under the names of spouses, former spouses or other close family members.

Critics say graft is too deeply ingrained in the system and can’t be solved with regulations. Some have called for independent bodies to fight corruption.

“Many officials have children, spouses or relatives who invest in companies or are involved in business projects. This happens all the time. What can you accomplish by requiring people to report it? Even if they report it, it’s still legal under current laws,” said Yang Yang (楊陽), a professor in the Politics and Public Management Institute at the China Politics and Law University.

He said the government was trying to show its efforts in combating corruption, but that the new regulation would have limited effects. Yang said he was also considered a midlevel official and has had to make similar disclosures about his personal assets in the past.

“You filled it out on your own and nobody would check the declarations,” he said. “It’s very rare to find a person who will fill it out honestly.”

Under the new rules posted on the central government Web site, officials must report information including changes in marital status, personal assets including property and investments, and the business activities of spouses and children.

They must also report the whereabouts of spouses or children living abroad and whether children are married to foreigners, including people from Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Punishment for those who fail to properly report ranges from criticism to dismissal.

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