News / Asia

China Begins Efforts to Lift Veil on Officials’ Assets

Chinese City Begins Slowly Unveiling Officials’ Assetsi
X
March 04, 2013 4:35 PM
As China’s Communist Party leaders step up anti-corruption efforts, a rapidly developing district in the southern mega-city Guangzhou is leading the way. Officials in one part of the capital city of Guangdong province will soon have to disclose a wide range of financial details such as their salary, how many cars and houses they own and where and when they travel overseas. VOA’s William Ide reports how the plan is emboldening some to call for more transparency from China’s top leaders.
William Ide
As China’s Communist Party leaders step up their efforts to fight corruption, a rapidly developing district in the southern mega-city Guangzhou is one of the areas that has been chosen to lead the way.
 
Later this month, officials Nansha New District will be required to disclose a wide range of financial details such as their salary, how many cars and houses they own and where and when they travel overseas.
 
The pilot program is not the first, but its scope is broad and will target high-ranking officials, says Ni Xing a professor at Sun Yat-sen University’s School of Governance.
 
“Assets include things such as your salary, savings and investments, but aside from this there are some other important things to disclose,” he said. “Nansha’s policy will include things such as marital status, where you travel, what your wife and children do for a living and what stocks they own and trade.”

Corruption Hurts Competition
 
Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdon Province, has long been one of China’s biggest economic zones and manufacturing centers, but in recent years it has been facing increased competition from other cities such as Suzhou and Tianjin.
 
Ni Xing says asset disclosure is not only about cracking down on corruption and preventing graft.
 
“I believe that one of the reasons why this is taking place during the leadership reshuffle is because clean governance is a key way of raising an area’s economic competition,” Ni said.  
 
Of the three areas named in Guangdong’s pilot program for assets disclosure, two are special economic zones: Nansha New District and Zhuhai’s Hengqin.
 
Nansha covers some 800-some-square kilometers and was named a special economic zone last year just around the time that China was gearing for the once in a decade reshuffle.

Transparency Popular
 
Chinese officials say their fight against corruption is a life or death struggle and the push to have officials disclose their assets is being welcomed by many.
 
In conversations on the street in Guangzhou, support for the policy was evident.
 
"The power that officials have is frightening, they need to disclose their assets," said one man, Wang, who only wished to give his surname.
 
A young woman surnamed Wang who works in the clothing industry said she supports the policy because it would give the public more transparency.
 
He Di, a high school student in Guangzhou said that now was the time for China to take action to fight corruption.  "I think China is ready for this kind of a policy and should devote itself to this effort," He Di said.
 
A recent public opinion poll carried out by the Canton Public Opinion Research Center, reported that a majority respondents were unhappy about corruption and the accumulation of wealth by officials, moral corruption and the use of public funds for exorbitant personal expenses. The poll said access to prestigious schools and better medical treatment were areas where the problem was most visible.

Take it to the Top
 
Although the Nansha pilot program is widely supported, for some it does not reach high enough.
 
Sun Hanhui is part of a grassroots movement in China that wants the top 205 central government officials to make their assets public.
 
On Monday, after weeks of traveling around the country, Sun and several others sent a petition to the man who will soon be China’s next president, Xi Jinping.
 
The letter included the signatures of 7,033 people from all walks of life - farmers, workers, lawyers, and civil servants - and called on the government’s top officials to disclose their own assets and those of their family members as well.
 
The group is urging officials to make the disclosure during the annual National People’s Congress, which begins Tuesday.
 
“Assets disclosure is a systematic approach that seeks to stem the problem of corruption,” Sun said. “It’s an international model that started more than 200 years ago in Sweden.  It has been used in England and the United States, but for the model to be meaningful it needs to start from the top.”

How far China’s leaders are prepared to take the pilot program remains unclear. Guangzhou’s City Mayor has come forward and said that he is willing to disclose his assets, as have other officials in the south.
 
However, some officials argue that to require them to reveal their salary, assets and investments would be an invasion of their privacy.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs