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China expands income-reporting rules to fight corruption

The Chinese government instituted new regulations Sunday requiring a wide variety of government officials to disclose to the state details about their personal finances and the legal statuses of their family members. The new regulations [Xinhua report], which apply to county-level and higher-ranking political officials, party officers and employees of public institutions and state-held business entities, require individuals to disclose their family's investment holdings, property and income, as well as the marital statuses, employment statuses and whereabouts of all family members. The inclusion of detailed information about family members in the new disclosure requirements is intended to deter officials from hiding ill-gotten assets and bribes under family members' names, a practice the government believes to be widespread. While the regulations, enacted by the General Office of China's State Council [official website, in Chinese] and the General office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], do not go so far as to require public disclosure of the financial information in question, feedback from Chinese citizens posted to state-run portals has shown the move to be well received [Xinhua report]. The regulations also institute stiffer penalties for failure to comply, with offenders now facing a range of disciplines from public sanction to removal from office.

The expanded regulations are the latest salvo by the Chinese government in a years-long battle against what is perceived to be pervasive corruption [JURIST news archive] in the state's various business and administrative bodies. Last week, the Chinese government executed [JURIST report] a top judicial official after a corruption probe in the southwestern city of Chongquing revealed he had taken nearly $2 million in bribes and had been protecting a number of organized crime gangs. In March, the Hebei Province People's High Court upheld a life sentence for the former vice president of China's Supreme People's Court (SPC), Huang Songyou, who had been convicted [JURIST reports] of bribery and embezzlement. Earlier that month, SPC president Wang Shengjun called for increased efforts to fight corruption [JURIST report] in the country's court system. In January, the SPC announced new anti-corruption rules [JURIST report] in an effort to increase public confidence in the rule of law. In October, two Chongqing courts sentenced [JURIST report] six individuals to death for their connections with organized crime gangs.

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