Local authorities in several cities in China have tightened regulations relating to housing registration inquiries, prompting fears that this will hinder public efforts to crack down on corrupt officials’ illegal gains, people.com reported.
In Guangzhou, it is no longer possible to acquire house ownership information by providing the owner’s ID number or house address. Under new interim measures, to conduct an inquiry an applicant must also obtain the subject of the inquiry’s approval or ratification from an attorney.
In Zhangzhou, Fujian, it is now prohibited to make inquiries regarding property ownership using the homeowner’s name, and local authority employees who make property ownership information public may face criminal charges.
In Shenzhen, husbands and wives now have to provide marital status certificates in order to apply for housing information about each other.
Authorities claim the measures, which were implemented after an retired engineer was falsely accused online of illegally amassing 24 houses, are designed to protect privacy.
However, rather than protecting privacy, many outraged netizens suspect the new regulations will merely help to hide illegal wealth amassed by corrupt officials.
Last year, a county-level official was found to have purchased 22 houses, worth more than 40 million yuan, using illicit gains. Just last month, a former deputy chief of a bank was found to have used multiple identities to purchase 41 properties in Beijing.
“[The new measures] are a means to protect illegal gains under the mask of protecting privacy,” read an online comment, which has received 30,000 likes so far.
“Regulations and laws are only made to serve the officials,” said another comment.