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China requires officials to report assets

Associated Press / July 13, 2010

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BEIJING — 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 regulations went into effect Sunday and expand on similar guidelines released in April governing senior Communist Party officials. Now midlevel officials and nonparty members must comply, reporting even on changes in marital status and the whereabouts of relatives living abroad.

Punishment for failing to do so can range from a public reprimand to dismissal.

Ordinary Chinese frequently complain about official corruption, and the Communist 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 cannot be solved with regulations. Some have called for independent bodies to fight graft.

“Many officials have children, spouses, or relatives who invest in companies or are involved in business projects,’’ said Yang Yang, a professor in the Politics and Public Management Institute at the China Politics and Law University. “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.’’

Yang said that the government was trying to show its efforts in combating corruption, but that the new regulation would have limited effects. He 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.’’

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