CHINA> Regional
Law limits moves for Shanghai officials
By Ma Zhenhuan and Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-11 10:28

SHANGHAI: The effectiveness of a local law limiting the movement of officials into the business world remains to be seen, said legal experts yesterday.

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The Shanghai discipline inspection authority is mulling over a rule to better regulate officials' business-related conduct after retirement or resignation. The move comes as more former officials use their influence to launch commercial careers.

According to the regulation, civil servants in Shanghai above the deputy division head level are banned from seeking employment at enterprises or commercial services that have business links with their previous posts until three years after their resignation, says the Shanghai government website.

For those below the deputy division head level, the ban period is shortened to two years.

Zhang Peihong, vice-director of the criminal law research commission with the Shanghai Bar Association, said yesterday he doubts that such a rule would work in effectively preventing businesses hooking up with administrative power.

"If the official does not work for a business, he could find alternative ways to get his wife, children or other relatives or friends to work for it. And you can hardly define the appropriateness in legal terms," Zhang said, adding that media surveillance should act as an effective tool to oversee such misconduct.

Zhang's view was echoed by Gu Gengyun, professor with East China University of Political Science and Law, who said he believes that stricter supervision on administrative power is needed to prevent misuse of power.

"Supervision departments should conduct frequent checks on civil servants and inflict severe punishment if they are found guilty. And they should publicize such cases on a regular basis," Gu said yesterday.

With the deepening reform of China's civil service over the past 10 years, more officials have resigned from their posts and shifted into the business world, leading to concerns they might seize inappropriate business interests through previous links and influence.

In January 2005, Chen Guang, then governor of Shanghai's Hongkou district, caught public and media attention by resigning as governor to work as the China CEO of an Indonesian multinational company.

The Shanghai municipal government later said no misconduct was found as the Indonesian company had no business interests in Hongkou, where Chen had previously worked.