New government transparency rules strike chord with public (2)

07:57, July 13, 2010      

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According to the regulation, if officials fail to declare their assets honestly or promptly, they could face dismissal -- the harshest penalty under the new regulation. Previously the most severe punishment was "criticism" of the offending official in a public notice.

A statement issued by the General Office of the State Council and the General Office of the CPC Central Committee said, "The regulation, targeting new issues and problems emerging from the current situation of integrity and self-discipline of officials, standardizes the reporting system of officials."

The new rules enable the central organization authority and the CPC's inner discipline supervisory body, the CCDI, to analyze the reported information to try to determine "universal problems" so as to launch special campaigns to correct all official misconduct.

They also offered valuable reference for appointment of personnel as well as supervision by judicial agencies, according to Monday's statement.

The reporting system was set up in 1995, and revised in 1997 and 2006 by broadening the list of items and adding detailed procedures.

The latest regulation comes months after the the CPC Central Committee issued the "52 don'ts," a code of ethics for CPC cadres, specifying 52 prohibited practices, including accepting cash or financial instruments as gifts, and using their influence to benefit their spouses or children.

The "52 don'ts" include taking gifts that might undermine the practice of official duties, as well as banquets, travel, and entertainment activities.

The official reporting system and cadre ethics code were both revised this year, which showed the authorities were improving mechanisms to fight corruption, said Prof. Liu Chun.

Huang Weiding, a researcher at "Qiushi," the official magazine of the CPC Central Committee, said the latest rule was "an achievement of the CPC's system construction and signaled that the Party has entered a new era of system construction."

Huang noted the CPC had published the "52 don'ts" guidelines and four documents on the appointment and promotion of officials this year.

In February last year, Premier Wen Jiabao said in his first-ever Internet discussion with the public that the government was making "active preparations" for officials to declare their assets.

"Such a declaration system must be established and carried out so as to produce substantial results," Wen said. "It should be a major move to fight corruption."

Authorities in Altay Prefecture, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, took the lead last year in publishing a list of the assets of more than 1,000 current and retired officials, which was welcomed by the public.

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