'Chinese officials must declare their assets'

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 06, 2012 08:30 hrs

Beijing, Dec 6 (IANS) Officials will think twice before pocketing bribes if their assets are made public, said a state-run Chinese news agency which recalled that during the Ming Dynasty, Chinese officials convicted of taking bribes were skinned alive in public.

Xinhua said Thursday in a commentary "Time to publicly disclose officials' assets" that public interest in the financial status of government officials has been renewed by a series of recent scandals.

Netizens have demonstrated the failure of the country's asset declaration system as most government officials' assets are still kept secret from the public, it said.

Without extensive public supervision, "the asset declaration system is a tiger without teeth".

The commentary said it was found that Cai Bin, a south China official nicknamed "Uncle House" by netizens, owns 22 properties. The official told his superiors that he owned only two.

"If their assets are made public, officials will think twice before making false asset declarations and pocketing bribes, particularly at a time when public anger regarding corruption is widespread and vociferous," it said.

Yu Zhengsheng, now a member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the party's top decision-making body, has promised to make his financial status public, if required.

The newly-elected CPC leadership has made clear its resolution to combat corruption.

The commentary said: "Seven hundred years ago, during the Ming Dynasty, Chinese officials convicted of taking bribes were skinned alive in public. But even severe penalties like those failed to deter greedy and reckless officials; the `national disease' of corruption contributed significantly to the fall of the dynasty."

"Having tried out different remedies, China is just one step away from a cure that has been proven effective in countries the world over: the public disclosure of government officials' assets.

"Such disclosures are a critical step in the country's fight against corruption and must be implemented," it added.

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