China / Government

Shanghai officials 'back asset disclosure'

By SHI YINGYING in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-22 00:19

Nearly 80 percent of Shanghai government officials said they are willing to disclose their personal assets to the public, according to the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

The figure emerges from a report analyzing the constitutional awareness of officials at county level and above, in which 805 city officials were surveyed.

Forty-three percent said they fully agree with the idea of declaring personal assets, while 34 percent said they basically agree. Another 17 percent had a neutral attitude and 6 percent were against.

All Chinese officials at the level of deputy county head or higher must submit an annual report that includes personal income, the employment status of their children and spouses, and property interests and investments.

But there is no requirement to make the information public.

In September, officials in Pan'an county, Zhejiang province, published personal asset declarations to improve transparency and fight corruption. Visitors to the county government's website can find out how many residences these 14 officials have, what cars they drive and how much they earn.

Dozens of authorities, from Zhejiang province in East China to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Northwest China, have ordered officials to declare property.

Shi Jiansan, a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Law, who spent a year on the survey and report, said third-party evaluation of government officials by 1,038 independent lawyers, 678 legal practitioners and 526 residents was included in addition to the 805 officials' questionnaires.

Questions tested officials' attitude toward petitioners and using public funds for wining and dining.

Shi said: "We've seen evolution in two groups of professionals ― those within the system, such as legal staff with courts or procuratorates, and independent lawyers. Interestingly, the lawyers have a relatively low opinion of officials, while legal practitioners inside the system speak highly of government authorities."

Shi said it is hard to judge which is more objective. "Legal professionals within the system know more about government officials, as they're working with them every day," he said.

The report also asked officials for their opinions on the Wukan incident. Wukan in South China's Guangdong province, made headlines last year when villagers staged four months of rallies to protest over officials' alleged illegal land seizures, corruption and violation of financing and election rules.

More than 62 percent of the Shanghai officials said the protests happened because there were problems with grassroots officials' quality, style of work and working methods.

Thirty-one percent said it was because of the widening wealth gap and conflicting interests, while 5 percent said the public lacked "legal consciousness".

Hot Topics