Chinese officials' assets in spotlight

South China's Guangdong province, traditionally a forerunner of reform in the country, will test out a program that will make details of officials' assets public, as part of an effort to fight corruption.

The Hengqin new area in Zhuhai, the Nansha district of Guangzhou and Shixing county under the administration of Shaoguan city, have been selected as the districts where the test will be rolled out. The program will require all Communist Party of China and government officials to report their assets.

The officials' assets will be made public and public opinion will be sought, according to a statement that the Guangdong Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC released over the weekend.

"Currently, preparation work for the introduction of the test project is well under way in the three areas, while local Party commissions for discipline inspection are busy studying the details and relevant rules for the project, which is meant to prevent and fight corruption," said authorities with the Guangdong Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Those who refuse to disclose their assets or lie in their reports will be relieved of their posts and be subject to further investigations, according to the statement.

All major Party and government officials in the three designated areas will be audited when they retire or are to be transferred to other departments or places, the statement said.

Liu Liansheng, a senior official from the Guangdong Provincial Party Commission for Discipline Inspection, said departments have also been urged to further improve the system of exposing corruption online, to encourage the public to report corrupt officials.

"In recent times, many corruption cases have been made public after local residents reported the cases online," Liu said.

The Hengqin new area, which is adjacent to Macao, has established a special anti-corruption office that consists of officials and experts from the local Party commission for discipline inspection and the departments of supervision, public security, taxation, industry and commerce, according to local media reports.

The office will learn about preventing and fighting corruption from Hong Kong and Macao, and seek more cooperation with its counterparts in the two special administrative regions in the coming years, reports said.

Nansha district, located at the mouth of the Pearl River, plans to work closely with local housing, taxation, and exit and entry departments to allow the public to inquire into the district's Party and government officials' property, travel records and other information in the coming months, according to Mei Heqing, a senior official with the Guangzhou municipal commission for discipline inspection.

Mei said in the near future, people will be able to easily go online to find out how many properties local officials own.

Shixing county in the northern part of Guangdong has also taken the lead of the city of Shaoguan in requiring all officials at township-level or above, to report their assets.

Wang Yuyun, a professor from Guangdong Provincial Party School, said introducing the project demonstrates Guangdong's determination in the battle against corruption.

"The project will strengthen the supervision of officials and the effects (of the project) are expected to be worthwhile," Wang said.

Han Zhipeng, a local political adviser in Guangzhou, said the project, which places officials under the scrutiny of society and media, further standardizes the code of conduct of Party and government officials and makes government operations more transparent.

"But governments at all levels should still try to prevent the centralization of power by senior officials to help keep corruption in check," said Han, a member of the Guangzhou Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The project is being introduced after five high-ranking officials were placed under investigation in the past six weeks.

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