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Financial Disclosure Debate Rocks Chinese Media

From the China Compliance Digest (Issue No. 16: May 21, 2012):

A 14 May editorial in the Beijing-based publication Study Times sparked passionate debate over China’s loophole-ridden financial disclosure system for public officials.

The piece argued, “If the financial disclosures by officials are merely for show, it will become a meaningless activity. However, if the disclosures were to be linked with selections, appointments, performance appraisals, there will probably be many officials who are willing to control their own behavior.”

Study Times listed the obstacles to implementation of an effective disclosure system – disguised bribes known as “gray income,” problems in the banking sector, lax enforcement, among others – and concluded that real reform would take ten years to come about.

Two days later, Southern Metropolis Daily responded with an uncommonly fiery editorial, “Officials’ Financial Disclosure: Ten Years Is Too Long, It’s a Race Against Time,” which questioned whether “barriers are created even when there are no barriers, so as to delay the process of financial disclosure.”

Meanwhile, state media took aim at U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke, whose subdued spending during trips in China has been noted by internet users frustrated with mainland officials’ famously free use of public funds.

After the state-owned The Beijing Daily called on Locke to disclose his personal assets, microbloggers pointed out that he had already done so.

Online commentator “deepain” wrote, “What is this!? You…ask [the] U.S. ambassador to disclose his finances, but not…our own [officials] to disclose?”

Sources: China Daily, Study Times (学习时报), Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报)


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