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China Issues New Anti-Corruption Regulations

China has issued new anti-corruption rules requiring government officials to report their incomes, investments, personal assets and whereabouts of family members.

The new rules, which went into effect Sunday, do not require that the information be made public, but it will be available to Communist Party officials, as well as prosecutors.

Critics say the new rules still do not go far enough, because they do not require transparency through public disclosure. A senior researcher of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Liao Ran, said 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."

Ran said the new rules do reflect worry among the Communist Party leadership about the public's perception of widespread official graft.

"One issue I do think the government takes very seriously is the public concern about the corruption issue," said Ran. "In China, people often said they do not really worry about the poverty, but they feel worried about the inequality. They don't mind how less they earn, but they just do not want to see the other people getting rich at a much faster pace and not in a legitimized way," said Ran.

The state-run China Daily newspaper on Monday quoted Zhu Lijia, a corruption expert at the China Academy of Governance as saying, "Sunshine is the best way to fight corruption."

The report said those who fail to comply or who file false data will face criticism or - possibly - some disciplinary action.

Frustration over official corruption has turned into street protests, and Chinese officials have said that graft is a major threat to public stability.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.