At least two people have been detained by police for taking to a street in central Guangzhou on Saturday and publicly calling on Communist Party chief Hu Jintao to declare his personal assets.
Nine young people in their 20s or 30s protested on Longdong pedestrian street in Tianhe district in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Saturday, holding small pieces of paper and large cardboard placards calling for political reform.
Some lines read 'Hu Jintao, please take the lead in disclosing assets', 'No votes, no future' and 'Equality, justice, freedom, human rights, rule of law, democracy'.
Xiao Yong, a 37-year-old human rights activist, went missing on Tuesday afternoon. And three other young men, Ou Ronggui, Yang Chong and Huang Wenxun, could note be reached by friends yesterday.
Tang Jingling, a Guangzhou-based legal activist, told the South China Morning Post that Huang, a student at Sun Yat-sen University, was detained at a police station in Haizhu district.
Xiao's wife, who declined to be named, said that police delivered a detention notice to her apartment around 8pm on Tuesday. It said that Xiao had been put under criminal detention at 6pm on Monday for allegedly being involved in an 'unlawful assembly', and that he was being kept at a local detention house.
'He only took some photos and didn't hold up placards,' she said, adding that she would hire a lawyer. 'I was not allowed to visit him.'
The disclosure of public officials' personal financial information is considered an effective means of tackling corruption, but has not been made mandatory, even after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress planned the legislation in 1994.
The existing reporting mechanism of officials' assets keeps the details within party organs after officials above the sub-county level report their personal incomes, the employment status of their children and spouses, and their property interests and investments.
Although Premier Wen Jiabao explicitly talked last year about pushing forward asset declaration, no timetable has been put in place for the mechanism, according to Wu Yuliang, deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection under the CPC Central Committee, a top anti-graft body.
Tang Jingling said it was good for the public to voice opinions, as it puts pressure on policymakers. But being vocal often comes at a price.
Around 180 internet users who signed a petition last month calling on top leaders to declare their assets were invited for a 'cup of tea' - a euphemism for unofficial questioning - according to one of the signatories, Guo Yongfeng, a Shenzhen blogger.
Beijing-based political analyst Chen Yongmiao said the biggest obstacle to asset declarations by officials lies in the vested interests of privileged classes.