China has ordered officials to disclose their personal information including marital status and families’ overseas assets to the ruling Communist Party, in a move to further strengthen its anti-graft drive. The central cabinet and the Communist Party of China (CPC) have amended regulations on officials’ personal information declarations and provided penalties for violations, an official announcement said. The revised regulations state that officials from deputy county level up are required to report information, including their marital status, overseas travel, criminal records, wages and other earnings, real estate holdings, stocks, funds, insurance and other investments, state-run Global Times reported today. Hundreds of officials were reported to have been punished in the anti-graft campaign initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping since he took over power in 2014. The new version states that Chinese officials must now inform the Party if their spouse or children have been continuously working outside the Chinese mainland for more than a year.
Officials are now required to declare their own overseas bank accounts or investments as well as those of their spouse and children. They also have to declare the occupation of their daughters or sons-in-law, especially if they are running their own businesses, it said. The new regulations expand coverage to leading members in government-funded groups and public institutions, as well as middle and senior managers of State-owned enterprises. The order also outlined the penalties for violators. Officials who failed to truthfully report their assets will be demoted and their promotion will be held back for two years. It also said that it would be a serious violation if officials declare that the value of their investment is 300,000 yuan (USD 44,000) less than the actual value, or property 50 square meters less than the actual size.
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Zhuang Deshui, a professor from Peking University, said that the penalties strengthen the regulations. “It provides a legal basis for the regulations, which will deter officials and assure its strict implementation,” Zhuang told the daily. “Many officials still violate the regulations due to a weak penalty system. They do not think their careers will be damaged over violations,” Zhuang said. Comprehensive supervision, besides personal property and wealth, China has also enhanced the reporting system to anonymously report officials up to members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, the highest level of officials in China’s cadre system, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
Since 2010, officials at deputy county level or higher have been required to report their personal information across 14 categories, including marital status, trips, income, property, investments and employment status of their spouse and children. “Including officials’ families in the reporting system is meant to have comprehensive supervision over their wealth,” Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times. More than 9,100 officials have been bypassed for promotion after they were found to have concealed personal information, while 124,800 were punished for making false declarations, the Xinhua News Agency reported earlier.
“The new regulations are more detailed after drawing on anti-corruption experience since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012,” Zhu pointed out, adding that refinements to the regulations will help guarantee their proper implementation. Zhu cited a pilot project in Shanghai which started in May 2015 that bans spouses and children of municipality-level officials from engaging in business. Beijing, Chongqing, South China’s Guangdong Province and Northwest China’s Uyghur Autonomous Region were included in the project in April 2016. “With help from big data and the Internet, it is possible to realise comprehensive and real-time supervision over officials’ wealth,” Zhu said.