Guangdong unveils locations for pilot anti-graft scheme

Province selects three locations for experimental scheme requiring officials to declare their assets

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 5:30am

Guangdong has chosen three locations for the testing of a pilot anti-graft scheme which requires senior officials to declare personal and family assets, mainland media reported yesterday.

The Hengqin New Area of Zhuhai, Nansha New Area of Guangzhou, and Shixing county, Shaoguan, have been chosen for the province's experimental anti-graft programme. The plan will also feature a new mechanism through which the results of audits of assets belonging to outgoing top officials would be released to "a certain range of officials", starting next year, the China Business Journal reported yesterday.

Citing people close to the Guangdong disciplinary watchdog, the paper said that the pilot programme in those three locations would lay the groundwork for a broader asset-declaration programme.

In the Hengqin New Area, authorities have established an anti-corruption office - featuring a disciplinary supervisory department, auditing supervisory department, and anti-bribery and anti-malpractice department. Local officials said the goal of this body was to learn from Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption and to push for the declaration of party cadres' assets, the newspaper reported.

In Shixing county, mid-level officials have for the past six months been required to publish details of their assets.

The asset-declaration scheme is one of 35 measures in the provincial government's blueprint to curb corruption over the next five years.

Released at the end of last month, the blueprint said that the disclosure of the results of audits of outgoing officials would begin next year and be gradually extended to more officials.

The Journal quoted Professor Wang Yuyun of the Guangdong provincial party school as saying that the disclosure of auditing results is "a fresh idea that will play an oversight role through compulsory regulatory requirements and psychological pressure".

But not everyone is optimistic about Guangdong's plans.

Chen Daoyin , an associate professor of political science at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the scheme was basically a symbolic move. "I'm not sure of any substantial effect the declaration schemes will have, because the causes of rampant corruption - including a lack of public involvement in fighting corruption and weak oversight from the People's Congress - are still present," he said.

Chen also said he was concerned there isn't a mechanism in place to verify that the officials aren't lying about their assets. And he feared that subsequent punishments for violators would not be harsh enough.

Professor Huang Jianrong , who teaches public administration at Nanjing University, said the new measures show that authorities aren't being brave or aggressive enough in tackling corruption, adding they would have a limited effect.

"They only solve the problem on the surface, and the quintessential problem that in China power is monitored by nobody hasn't been touched," he said.