China issued a sweeping new rule on Sunday, ordering officials in the government and state companies to annually report their personal and family assets, income and investments.
China’s latest anti-corruption measure has a wider reach than such rules enforced in India, where elected representatives publicly declare assets before elections and the judiciary recently agreed to do so too. In 2009, Berlin-based Transparency International ranked China 79th and India 84th on the global corruption perceptions index.
The new rule requires all Chinese officials above the deputy county level to also report their changes in marital status, income details of spouses and children abroad and the marital details of children married to foreigners. Officials who misreport assets or fail to declare them on time will face dismissal or disciplinary action.
But the rule stops short of making official asset declarations public. “It’s a compromise. Its actual effect remains limited,” Lin Zhe, a professor at the Party School of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, told the China Daily.
The Communist Party is intensifying its battle against corruption, which it views as a threat to domestic stability and its political grip. Officials fear the mass outrage that spreads rapidly on millions of Chinese blogs when the media or an alert netizen expose a corrupt official.
Multiparty democratic system cannot prevent or solve corruption, said an editorial in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper on Monday. The Party mouthpiece said that the masses and online communities should instead be encouraged to blow the whistle on corrupt officials.
Chinese courts have at times ordered the death penalty for officials facing high-profile corruption charges. Last week, a former top justice official embroiled in a corruption scandal in the southwest boomtown Chongqing, was executed by lethal injection.
Earlier this year, the Party issued a revised 52-point ethics code that warned senior officials against hosting lavish banquets and accepting gifts. Last year, a schoolgirl in south China made headlines when she told a journalist she wanted to grow up to be a ‘corrupt official,’ because corrupt officials have lots of good things.