New Regulation Requires More Disclosures by Chinese Officials

16 July 2010

Top Chinese officials will be required to disclose more about their assets under a regulation that became effective July 11, according to Chinese media, but critics say the rules contain loopholes.

“The regulation adds six more items to the list of declarable assets issued in 2006, bringing the total to 14,” reported the official Xinhua news agency.  “The new items include incomes from sources like lecturing, painting and calligraphy; homes owned by spouses and children; and equities and investments owned by officials, their spouses and children.”

But the disclosures will not be made public, according to a Voice of America summary, which said the disclosures will go to Communist Party officials and prosecutors.

VOA quoted a senior researcher of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Liao Ran, as saying that the laws have significant loopholes.

“According to the penal code, the current penal code, there is no punishment if you don’t declare your assets.  Or, if you report much less than what you actually have. There’s no punishment in the penal code,” he said. “If there is no access to those reported content, it means there’s no public scrutiny, no public monitoring. You don’t have access, you have no way to get clear [on] how much does a mayor earn and why he has 10 mansions instead of one apartment.”

Public interest in the new disclosures was running high, according to Xinhua, which said July 12 that more than 36,500 people had made online comments about the regulation on leading portal Sohu.com and more than 11,000 comments on an entry at Sina.com.cn.

Xinhua wrote:

Most of the published postings welcomed the new rules, but some said they should go further.

“The fight against corruption has a long way to go, but I am really glad to see each firm step taken by the central authorities,” said a posting from Shanghai on Sina.

“We want to see more detailed provisions and harsher punishments in the rule,” said a post by “Shihuiwen 197” on Sohu.

The regulation issued by General Office of China’s State Council and the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee applies to officials at deputy county chief level and above. They will be required to annually report their assets, marital status and whereabouts and employment of family members.

Provincial level CPC committees and governments could expand the regulations to officials below deputy county chief level.

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