CHINA> Regional
Officials' assets watched online in NW China
Updated: 2009-02-18 20:20

URUMQI -- Authorities in Altay Prefecture, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, have publicly released a list of the assets of more than 1,000 current and retired officials.

Altay, in northern Xinjiang, asked 1,064 officials, including those who had retired within the past three years, to file asset reports during the first 20 days of January.

The information was submitted to the prefecture's discipline inspection commission, which on Tuesday posted the data on its website.

All but eight officials filed reports. Of the eight, three were being held in police custody for bribery. The other five were out of the region during the filing period, Wu Weiping, Party secretary of the commission, said Wednesday.

Wu said some of the officials reported having two houses and some had residences in Beijing or Shanghai.

But nobody reported to having "accepted any money or gift by taking advantage of their posts," according to the online report.

"The publication of the list is intended to "promote self-discipline, not to ask officials to 'turn themselves in'," Wu said.

The commission was examining the unreleased part of the report, which included real estate, stocks, securities and heritage. The released part covered the incomes of salaries, allowance, and rewards for lecturing, writing and consulting.

"If officials fail to provide a lawful source for a huge amount of property, or if we receive tip-offs from the public, we will start an investigation," Wu said.

Chinese officials began to declare their assets years ago, but the declarations have never been made public.

Though what the Altay authorities choose to post on the Internet is only a small part of the declared assets, the move is still hailed by most critics as a step towards the right direction.

The practice won applause from local residents. They hoped the government could grant them the rights to supervise and report. Some of them even hoped the practice could be carried out across the country.

Zhang Sen, an officer from the prefecture's public security bureau, said, "The publication of officials' property can be seen as an alarm bell for us public servants. We should keep the bell ringing in our mind."