Government departments have issued new directives to prevent nepotism in the bureaucracy, but observers doubted they would have much effect among senior cadres.
Xinhua yesterday reported that departments - including the Ministry of Public Security, State Development Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance and General Administration of Customs - had issued rules forbidding spouses and children of senior officials from engaging in businesses that overlap the officials' areas of responsibility.
For example, spouses and children of senior police have been banned from working in nightclubs, dance halls and massage parlours overseen by the officers. They are also not allowed to run shops engaged in the manufacture, sales and service of police uniforms and equipment. Firefighting departments face the same restrictions.
Similar rules were implemented for the State Development Planning Commission, in charge of screening and financing for all main government projects. They prohibit spouses and children of senior officials from engaging in evaluation, consultancy, financing and tendering in connection with projects.
Customs has even set up a hotline for the public to report violations of the directives.
A source was sceptical that such rules would actually discourage the spouses and children of officials from accepting lucrative job offers. He said it was well-known that even children of top leaders were hired by multinationals with business interests in China.
'For example, the daughter of a vice-premier was recently hired by a big American investment bank,' he said.
'Almost by coincidence, this bank has just been given the green light to underwrite the overseas listing of a big state-owned company.'