Beijing eyes property disclosure for officials, says report

BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing is taking a step towards requiring local government personnel to disclose their property holdings, a top city official told media on Friday, a move critics say would tackle endemic graft.

China has launched a much-publicised anti-corruption drive since President Xi Jinping ascended to power a year ago, but systemic reforms have been lacking.

Beijing vice mayor Li Shixiang said the city was studying a requirement for municipal officials to register details of their real estate holdings, including their size, type and location, the Beijing News reported.

But it did not indicate whether the information would be retained by the authorities or made more widely available.

The move comes amid intensifying public outrage over rising home prices and a real estate market that critics say is rife with abuse by corrupt government officials, some of whom have sought to hide their wealth by illegally amassing dozens of homes under false identities.

In one high-profile case last year, Gong Aiai, vice president of a bank in the northern province of Shaanxi and a delegate to the local legislature, was sentenced to three years in prison after she was found to have purchased more than 40 properties under multiple identities.

A police chief and local Communist Party official in the southern province of Guangdong, Zhao Haibin, was sacked last year following reports that he owned 192 houses in several cities.

Public disclosure of assets has been a top cause of many activists in China, but with the Communist Party seeking to handle the issue on its own terms, some who have campaigned on the issue have been jailed.

One of the leading such voices, Xu Zhiyong, was sentenced in January to four years in prison for his role in spearheading a loose-knit network of activists who unfurled banners calling for officials to disclose their wealth.