Fresh call for China's top leaders to declare assets

After politicians in US, France and Russia make public their earnings and wealth, bloggers call on China's top officials to follow suit

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 4:52am

Chinese internet users have urged the country's top leaders to follow US, Russian and French leaders by making their personal assets public.

A report by Xinhua on its Sina Weibo account on Sunday about asset disclosures by leaders overseas was reposted more than 7,000 times and racked up more than 2,000 comments, making it one of the account's hottest posts.

"We welcome our officials disclosing their households' assets - from the top down, including cadres at every level. It would be the best way to combat corruption," one user of Sina Weibo wrote.

Public grievances in China over the hidden wealth of party officials has been simmering for some time, with many believing that an asset disclosure system is key to tackling graft among officials.

The White House released the tax returns of President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, last Friday, which showed that the couple earned a gross income of US$608,611 last year. This included his salary as president and his book sales.

US Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, reported income of US$385,072 last year.

On the same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev both posted their own tax reports on the presidential and government websites, indicating that each earned almost 5.8 million roubles (HK$1.4 million) last year.

The French premier and his 37 ministers also published details of their assets on Monday.

"It seems Putin can hardly purchase an apartment in urban Beijing [on his earnings]," one Sina Weibo microblogger wrote sarcastically.

Another posted: "Putin owns much less than a village official in China."

In February, a Shenzhen village official, Zhou Weisi, was arrested on suspicion of paying and accepting bribes, amid allegations he owned more than 80 properties and 20 cars with a total value of more than 2 billion yuan (HK$2.4 billion).

President Xi Jinping has said government corruption is a threat to the Communist Party's legitimacy, and promised to target corruption among both high- and low-ranking officials.

But at the latest meeting of the party's anti-graft agency, no-one voiced support for the introduction of a national system requiring party officials to publicly disclose their assets.

The current requirement for senior officials to declare their assets, without making them public, was perceived by more than 80 per cent of respondents to be ineffective, according to a recent online survey commissioned by the China Youth Daily.

"[President] Xi, when is it our turn?" another microblogger asked.