Officials forced to declare all

By Du Liya Source:Global Times Published: 2012-8-29 0:20:06

Some 600 district officials in the Jiawang district of Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, have officially revealed their personal assets, including properties, income and information about their families' net worth, making this the first district nationwide to have a real asset disclosure system.

Under the system, all section-level officials are required to fully disclose their personal assets as well as those of their spouses and children, while also taking an oath to not be corrupt. 

The evaluation system was launched at the beginning of the year, allowing the public to supervise and interact with their civil servants.

"Jiawang has made a great move in publishing the officials' assets on a large scale and seeking opinions from the public online," Ding Yuanzhu, professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times.

"In the past, the disclosure of assets was required for those about to be promoted. But Jiawang has taken a step forward by asking all officials to reveal their wealth," said Ding.

Although hundreds of people have commented on the system since January, some have decried it for being no more than a formality and offering no guarantees that the officials are not shielding some assets from the public eye.

An official from Jiawang's tax bureau, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Global Times that this has put great pressure on those reluctant to divulge their assets. However, he agreed that it was hard to say how trustworthy the published information actually was.

The Global Times found on the evaluation website that only four officials have declared owning more than two properties, while the others submitted information saying they had "no income other than a regular salary."

Zhang Qiuyue, secretary of the Jiawang discipline inspection commission, was quoted by the Nanjing-based Xinhua Daily as saying that officials would be labeled as liars if they attempted to hide their properties, in a response to the public doubts. 

The disclosure was a warning, since once the officials are found trying to hide assets, they will face punishment, Zhang added.

Zhang refused to comment on the disclosure when reached by the Global Times Tuesday.

Jiawang is not the only place in the province organizing such disclosures. The city of Huai'an this month started to publish the personal assets of officials about to be promoted, reported the Legal Daily. The city of Nanjing and the district of Dantu in Zhenjiang have also established promotion-only asset declarations.

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