Beijing issues new regulations to curb nepotism among senior cadres

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 August, 2006, 12:00am

The mainland has issued new regulations banning officials' relatives from owning and controlling businesses under their supervision.

The ban is included in three sets of regulations, published yesterday by Xinhua, under which the central leadership has tried to clarify rules relating to a reshuffle of leading positions in the Communist Party and government that started in June.

The regulations stipulate how long an official can stay in the same post or administer an area, with cadres in senior positions expected to serve out their five-year terms except in cases of retirement, illness or discipline for failure to perform duties.

But the regulations also try to curb nepotism by preventing senior leaders from serving in the same post for more than 10 consecutive years.

According to the regulation on family members, no official can be the immediate supervisor of his or her spouse, children, other close relatives and in-laws, and neither should an official and his close family members report to the same supervisor.

The regulation bans an official's family members from owning or holding controlling stakes in companies that the official directly oversees.

'If the spouses, children, and in-laws of a cadre in a leading position own or hold controlling stakes in a business, the cadre must stop being the leader of a government department which has power to oversee that company,' it states.

A well-known case of suspected nepotism was that of Liu Zhixiang , former deputy director of the Wuhan Railway Bureau. Liu, the brother of railway minister Liu Zhijun , was convicted of embezzling 40 million yuan and hiring a hitman to kill the whistle-blower who tried to expose his crimes. He received a suspended death sentence.

But the new rules contain no clear instruction to ban the so-called princelings - the children of senior state leaders - from running businesses, which has often been criticised as a major source of corruption in the mainland.

Implementation of the regulation relies heavily on officials' self-discipline, as they are required to report to the organisation department of the Communist Party any possible conflict of interest involving their relatives and to volunteer to leave their posts.

Executive associate dean of Tsinghua University's school of public policy and management, Xue Lan, said the penalty provisions in the new regulations were too mild.

But he acknowledged that the restriction on officials' relatives participating in business in which the officials were in charge was a step forward, as previous regulations were less precise.