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April 19, 2012

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Student seeks data on pay of officials

A local postgraduate student has sent letters to 53 central government departments demanding that they publish the gross salaries of their chiefs during 2011.

Lei Chuang, 25, a postgraduate student at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, spent 1,219 yuan (US$193) to express-mail his letters to departments in and directly under the State Council.

"I noticed last month that the Beijing city government published this year's budget and it stated the basic expenditure for government salary and personal allowance. So I want to know how much the country's higher government officials were paid each month," Lei said.

Up until yesterday, Lei had received only one phone call, from the State Food and Drug Administration, asking him the purpose of his demand. The administration said it needed to consider his request and asked him to wait for a few days.

Lei became famous as a protester when he fought discrimination against carriers of the hepatitis B virus starting in 2007. To test whether a ban on such discrimination was being enforced, Lei struggled to receive the first health certificate to work in the food industry as an HBV carrier in China.

Now he is turning his attention to corruption after many government officials have been found with huge amounts of property of unknown origin.

"The salary of government officials consists of basic wage, bonus, allowance and subsidy. The last three parts are unknown to the public and that's the meaning of my efforts," Lei said.

An official's personal salary is not in a category of public government information.


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