China Economic Times: Assets Reporting System for Civil Servants Needed

February 22, 2005

In this article in the China Economic Times, commentator Wei Wenbiao notes that the National People’s Congress is debating the draft of a Civil Service Law. Wei also notes that Professor Qiang Ming'an of Beijing University suggested in mid-February 2005 that the law should include rules requiring that civil servants report their financial assets as well as their income. Chinese law has required that high-level cadres and officials report their income since at least 1995. Wei Wenbiao’s article says that existing income reporting rules leave assets unreported, and assets are the more opaque part of officials’ finances. Wei argues that government officials have privacy rights as citizens, but once they are in office their right to privacy is outweighed by the public’s right to clean government. Thus, officials should have no personal secrets, he says. Wei observes that many other nations have family assets reporting laws that have helped law enforcement authorities prosecute corrupt officials.

For the text of existing regulations on income reporting, see this 1995 joint notice that the CCP General Office and the State Council General Office issued, entitled "On Income Reporting Rules for Leading Cadres in Party and Government Units at County/District Level and Above." Many local governmental levels have issued implementing regulations for this joint notice; see, e.g., this document from the Beijing city Communist Party Discipline and Inspection Committee.