Sessions focus on officials' asset disclosures
GUANGZHOU - Calls for officials to make their assets known to the public are sounding louder at ongoing provincial parliamentary sessions, as China's anti-corruption drive has gained momentum following the ruling party's leadership transition last year.
More government officials have said that they are willing to disclose their financial status, though conditionally, after a political advisor proposed revealing his own assets voluntarily.
Fan Songqing, deputy secretary-general of the Guangzhou Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in South China's Guangdong province, said on January 21 that he would like to be the first official to declare and make public his own assets.
Fan's remarks have sparked heated discussion regarding the long-awaited asset disclosure plan, particularly after a slew of recent corruption scandals tainted the image of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
At Guangdong's legislative and political advisory sessions, Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua said he would take the lead in disclosing his assets if he receives notice asking him to do so.
The mayors of Foshan and Shenzhen, also in Guangdong, made similar remarks when they were asked by reporters if they would support asset disclosures.
"I would like to make my assets known to the public if required and I am prepared to do so," said Foshan Mayor Liu Yuelun.
"Disclosing officials' assets is beneficial in terms of maintaining clean governance and Shenzhen will actively push such efforts forward," Mayor Xu Qin said.
China has previously piloted such asset disclosure programs in parts of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, as well as Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, but mostly among low-ranking officials.
In 2012, the Guangdong provincial government announced that similar programs would be launched in the Nansha New District of Guangzhou and the Hengqin New District of the city of Zhuhai, as well as in Shixing County, on a trial basis.
The government of Shixing will ask its 526 officials, including bureau chiefs and county heads, to declare their family's assets after the Spring Festival holiday, said Zheng Zhentao, CPC chief of the city of Shaoguan, which administers Shixing, at a legislative session held on Sunday.
Officials will be required to declare their salaries, bonuses and subsidies, labor income, real estate holdings, cars and investments, according to Zheng.
However, he added that the financial status of these officials will only be available for inquiry on the government intranet, rather than being fully revealed to the public.
Fan said the pilot programs will not fully meet public expectations, although such experiments will help to build up experience for future efforts.
Shaoguan Mayor Ai Xuefeng said that a systematic design for the asset declaration plan is more important, as many such programs end up disappearing after local government leaders are reshuffled.
Although the disclosures are expected to be a powerful tool in fighting corruption, the disclosure of officials' assets is in no way a panacea, some officials say.
"Asset disclosures are just one of many ways to supervise officials in terms of fighting corruption and their effect is limited," said Wang Yanshi, top discipline official of the city of Zhuhai.
"We should not deify asset disclosures, nor should we childishly think that all corruption will be eradicated after implementing such plans," Wang added.
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