People have gotten excited  over Fan Songqing, a deputy secretary with the CPPCC Guangzhou municipal committee because a few days ago he said he wants to be the first to go public with his (and his family's) total personal assets ahead of upcoming local transparency mechanisms to ensure they prove effective.
Provincial officials announced last year  one district in Guangzhou has been chosen for what's being touted as the country's first formal pilot assets declaration scheme, although it remains uncertain whether or not information disclosed will be accessible to the public.
It's that lack of accountability, Fan said in one interview, which prompted his decision, and led previous similar attempts at transparency in Xinjiang and other provinces to failure.
Incidentally, Party discipline officials revealed last week that consensus within the Communist Party ahead of the NPC/CPPCC sessions  in March slightly favours  trying to rein in corruption through officials' disclosure of assets over political reform of the corrupt system.
Fan also argues the scheme should be extended to include the heads of state-owned enterprises and civil servants from the county level on up through their tenure and for the five years following their retirement from public service.
And, of course, all those assets officials have stored safely overseas, says Fan, who has been the top local news story since the weekend.
Amid a flurry of coverage, Guangzhou media chasing the story have been allowed to interview (and quote) several of the city's most senior leaders.
"If the Party committee and government order it," said Guangzhou CPPCC Chair Su Zhijia Sunday , "then so it shall be done."
Ding Hongdu, Party secretary of Guangzhou's Nansha district, slated for the transparency project, has gone on record saying he enthusiastically supports Fan's proposal and is even willing to join him.
In an interview Saturday with Southern Metropoplis Daily, Guangzhou deputy mayor Wang Dong also revealed  that following the Nansha pilot scheme the next step will be public declaration of assets by national-level leaders, followed by officials at the provincial and then municipal leaders throughout the country.
Fan, for his part, has sort of begun to follow through, revealing in interviews he lives in a walk-up building with a flat just over 70 square metres in size, but leaving his supporters in suspense pending disclosure of any serious details.
Southern Metropolis Daily, which has given Fan's good intentions extensive coverage, was even able to get a quote  from Guangzhou mayor Chen Jianhua urging Fan to go for it:
"That's great, he should go public if he's willing, that is his freedom."
The Nansha experiment is set to be extended to the rest of Guangdong province next year.
Guangzhou's New Express newspaper today ran a summary  of a Guangzhou CPPCC committee meeting held yesterday, during which committee members lobbed tough questions Fan's way and it emerged he at one point owned a second property, one which Fan claims he paid off using proceeds from a book he'd just written, that the flat was sold off in 2003 and was much smaller than his current flat.
Late last night, our friends at Xinhua caught on and published a report  from Guangzhou which makes zero mention of the small movement Fan has started and in vague language 'clarifies' some facts for concerned Guangzhou cadres (emphasis mine):
Only a fraction of officials will be required to declare their assets; assets to be declared under the pilot scheme will include items such as property holdings, investment commitments and one's spouse's employment situation, but not one's salary; officials will only be declaring said assets, not making them public.
In April last year, Guangzhou authorities sent one man to prison for calling publicly on Hu Jintao to declare his own personal wealth, Radio Free Asia reported  last month.
-- Trying to Understand Today’s Huawei News Conference  Was this intended to push back against recent U.S. criticism, including the now infamous U.S. House intelligence committee report? Meng’s comments certainly do that, but the tough guy approach doesn’t exactly mesh well with the conciliatory language about transparency.
Kuwait News Agency
-- Kuwait granted highest investment quota in China stock market  China's foreign exchange regulator awarded Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) fresh quote of USD 700 million this week for direct investment in the Chinese securities market, on top of the USD 300 million already granted last year, it was announced Saturday.
-- Did anyone know that China’s national orchestra is on a US tour?  The US media get all hot on free flights when US orchestras go to China, but take no notice at all when the China National Symphony Orchestra comes to the US. It’s the biggest tour the CNSO has ever undertaken – 30 concerts in a month – but most venues are small towns, starting with Anniston, Alabama.
-- What kind of ‘hawk’ is Japan’s Shinzo Abe? Probably not the way you think  Indeed, for all the fear about a potential Japanese remilitarization, Abe has not been a particularly extreme voice in Japan. Though it may not repair perceptions of his orientation among others in the region, Abe is not the biggest “hawk” in the Japanese political sphere.
Wall Street Journal
-- A Confusing Debut for Daughter of Mysterious Huawei Founder  During the more than one hour briefing, Ms. Meng revealed that her father, a former officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army who seldom makes public appearances, owns a 1.4% stake in the company and that the remainder of the shares are held by between 64,000 and 65,000 of the company’s employees.
-- Miss Chinese Africa beauty contest held in Johannesburg  A contestant attends the bikini show section of the 2012/2013 Miss Chinese Africa Beauty Pageant Final in Johannesburg, South Africa, Jan. 19, 2013.
-- Ministry Says It Plans to Spend 650 Bln Yuan on Railway System in 2013  China will spend 650 billion yuan on its railway system this year, including 520 billion yuan on building infrastructure, the Ministry of Railways says. The total investment is the third largest in the country's history after 2009 and 2010. It would extend China's railway tracks by 5,200 kilometers.
China Internet Information Center
-- China's first 3D printing museum opens  In a bid to gain some full-on experience, visitors can have their entire body scanned by a shoebox-sized 3D scanner. The multi-dimensional data will then be stored and processed by computer. Several hours later, they will receive a 3D life-like mini sculpture of themselves.
-- Grey, Ugly and Congested: Why are so many Chinese cities so horrible?  China’s urban landscape reflects its authoritarian system of government. During the Mao years, ancient cities were torn down and reconstructed on Soviet lines. The Soviet urban planning system used bold city master plans to create cities of inhuman scale: urban design was designed to project Communist Party power.
-- How to have a “convenient” Spring Festival transport rush  The Screaming Chicken is a long, thin rubber chicken that emits a horrible squawking sound when pressed. Meant to repel people from coming to close to you in public transport, will never work for a second in China.
-- China R&D spending passed $160B in 2012  According to a Xinhua report on Saturday, businesses operating in China invested the most in such initiatives, accounting for 74 percent of total R&D spending in the region.