Corrupt officials in the Chinese city of Zhangzhou now find it easier than ever to hide their assets from public eyes. Authorities in the Fujian Province city have introduced a law forbidding property registry searches for officials that have multiple residences registered under their name. As a result, there's now nothing requiring officials to disclose their assets at multiple residences, which is often illegal income.
Back in 2006 a regulation was created by the Ministry of Housing and Rural-Urban Development to allow the public to submit inquiries about the assets of officials and companies. But a year later, that law was restricted to "interested parties."
Professor Pu Xingzu of Fudan University's school of international affairs and public relations told the South China Morning Post "It's only natural that people connect such bans with attempts to muzzle the exposure of corrupt officials after several online exposés led to official investigations."
One such case involved a top urban management official from Guangdong Province, known as "Uncle House." Back in October it was disclosed that he and his family had 22 homes even though they weren't making much money.
Another case involves a 22-year-old woman from Zhengzhou City in Hunan Province who became known as "Sister House" for registering a whopping 31 houses under her family's name. The woman's father was an urban management official who was sacked from his job as a result.
Back in January, Chinese Communist Party head Xi Jinping chaired a meeting of the Communist Party's Politburo, stressing that authorities punish corrupt officials, saying the future of the regime depends on it.
Professor Ren Jianming of Beihang University's school of public administration told the South China Morning Post "Stressing protection of privacy without a system to declare officials' assets and protect the overall public interest will only generate discontent."
Similar laws have also been introduced in Yancheng City in Jiangsu Province and Guangzhou City in Guandong Province.
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