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November 14, 2009

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Pudong officials must declare family property

OFFICIALS above division level in the Pudong New Area will have to declare housing and property assets of themselves and their families online to prevent corruption, according to a draft released yesterday.

The government plans to bring in the property-declaration system and a relevant, detailed administrative regulation by the end of this year.

It will strengthen inspections of property ownership and work with experts to establish an index system to evaluate officials' performances.

The system will be put into practice in 2011 and the government will pick six to eight units for initial evaluation. The results of these evaluations will be issued on the government's Website.

The draft featuring measures to combat corruption was released at a plenary session of the Pudong Committee of the Communist Party of China after the exposure of several corrupt officials in the area this year.

"The system will realize the online declaration and management of the housing and property of officials above division level, the enterprises of their spouses and offspring, overseas travel and other major events," the draft said.

Though China introduced a stipulation on property declaration in 1995, it has been ineffective in curbing corruption due to a lack of inspection of officials' relatives, penalties for officials who conceal or manipulate property status and public exposure.

Almost no serious corruption case has been detected through this stipulation.

"The system will be a touchstone in the country's anti-corruption course," said Yang Yin, professor of Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

The property-declaration system had worked well in many developed countries and was a mighty weapon against corruption, Yang said.

He also said it was a complex field and the government should clearly define both the system and its penalties.


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