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Guangzhou Officials Asked to Return Their Cheap Social Housing Apartments

Posted: 05/16/2014 9:38 am

We can file this under “Never-Gonna-Happen”.

The public has demanded officials disclose their assets and properties for a long time now, and yet still nothing fruitful or noteworthy has come of it. Now, Guangzhou is expecting its officials in Huangpu District to voluntarily return any extra apartments they have improperly allocated for their own use before the end of this month.

If that is the case, the officials will have a lot of paper work to do, and a lot of properties to conceal, and the commission fees for some of the city’s big housing agents will be going through the roof from now until then.

All division level (处级以上) officials and higher working in institutions under the Huangpu District’s government, Communist Party Committee or state companies are subject to the new rule, according to Guangzhou Daily’s report on Wednesday.

Officials who own more than two social housing apartments, or officials who use their connections to buy low-income housings for their children and relatives, are expected to return those properties, the report said. But it did not mention any punishment for officials who refuse to do so.

But as if to appease the public about the rule’s successful implementation in the foreseeable future, the report cited an example of how the district has cleared out more than 190 improperly used government offices measuring 5,875.44 square meters in total since it issued a similar directive late last year.

Like so many other new rules Guangdong has recently unveiled including banning officials from calling each other “brother” or “boss” and the right to go clubbing, we can bank on the ultimate rule that has always, time after time, never failed to deliver – “wherever there is a policy from the top, there is a counter-policy from the bottom (上有政策,下有对策)”.

Home page photo credit: Anhui Daily 


Guangdong Opens an Anti-Corruption Education Camp for Officials

Posted: 04/30/2014 9:37 am

First, Guangdong officials were expected to recite Xi Jinping’s eight-point guideline (八项规定) on official conduct as well as to cut back on their first-class flight privileges. Now, they’ll have to brave the latest such measures introduced by the government—a tour to a high-tech–boasting, real-life–simulating anti-corruption education camp that will “make a visiting corrupted official break out in cold sweat”.

The self-described “innovative and multi-media equipped” education camp has been visited by more than 50,000 officials in Guangdong last year; more than 40,000 of these are from department-level government organs, China News reported on April 29. Some officials even went back for a second or third tour as it offers a “baptismal-like effect on one’s soul and heart” (心灵洗礼), the report said.

The anti-corruption education camp in Guangdong (Photo credit: China News)

One example of the camp is a room filled with different confiscated goods including paintings and porcelain. A division head surnamed Li recalled his tour to the room and said after a video was played, four characters 万丈深渊 (meaning “the unfathomable abyss” in English) appeared on the ground along with a thin layer of ice with images of the character 贪 (meaning “greed” in English) and money. Upon stepping on the word “greed”, the ice layer will “break”, revealing a pitch-dark abyss. Just in case you fail to imagine the impact of the scene, Li said, “if a corrupt official saw this, he would break out in a cold sweat.”

The camp also has videos of corrupted officials confessing to their crimes on big screens and on small TV screens installed all over the room, all showing images of remorseful officials weeping, confessing their crimes and apologizing to the Party and the people (of course). To make the tour more personalized, viewers can choose which confessions to watch.

In addition, simulations of officials’ “money hideouts” through the use of a “mirror” were also part of the camp tour. Viewers can set different images of temptations in the “mirror”, but when reaching out to the temptations, they will break into pieces with an alarming tag reminding one of their upright conduct and pure thoughts.

Some officials left some emotionally charged comments describing the tour as “core-shaking and awe inspiring.”

According to figures released by the central discipline commission, the anti-graft department has investigated 72 Guangdong officials from December 6, 2012 to April 11, 2014. Maybe those were the unfortunate ones missed out on the re-education camp tour.

Home page photo credit: RFA


Guangzhou Party official discloses personal assets, encourages others to do the same

Posted: 01/25/2013 10:46 am

Financial transparency and careers in Chinese politics do not often go hand in glove, which is why the case of Fan Songqing is such an intriguing one. According to a story in the China Daily, Fan became the first government and Party official in Guangzhou to publicly disclose his personal assets. Speaking at Guangzhou’s political consultative conference, which concluded earlier this week, Fan openly discussed property owned by his family, including a 74 sqm home, and an RMB 10,000 monthly salary that he receives from the Party. Fan then urged the approximately 2,000 other Guangzhou Party officials to do the same: “We should not wait for a city-wide implementation of the reporting system. If it had been put into operation earlier, there wouldn’t be so many officials involved in corruption in the past few years,” Fan said.

While there have yet to be any Guangzhou Party officials rushing to support Fan’s proposal, Cao Jianliao, the deputy mayor of Guangzhou has agreed to follow suit, provided, “the authorities require officials to do so.” Although that may not be the ringing endorsement Fan had hoped for, his move is not without precedent. Authorities in the Jiangning district of Nanjing have introduced a policy requiring officials to declare personal assets, including bank balances, real estate, cars, and any businesses their family members may be involved in.

While it’s difficult to say whether Fan’s proposal will gain any traction among PRD officials, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Following the recent changeover of the Politburo Standing Committee, cracking down on corruption has been among the Party’s top priorities; just ask Bo Xilai. Fan is clearly suggesting officials take a step forward and put their money where their mouth is.

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