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Business gifts refused by public servants auctioned in central China

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-11-22 21:02

WUHAN -- A total of 159 items originally received by public servants as business gifts went up for auction last weekend in central China's Hubei Province.

The gifts were turned in by staff from nearly 30 government organs, public institutions and state-owned enterprises in the past two years in Wuhan, capital of Hubei.

China does not allow public servants to receive gifts. Those who take business gifts must hand them in and register them within one month. The auction was seen by many as showing the local government's determination to fight corruption.

The gifts included jewelry, paintings, watches, electronic devices, wine, and stamps. Initial bidding price of all items totaled 593,700 yuan (about $86,218).

About 200 locals participated in the bidding. Of the 159 pieces auctioned, 97.5 percent or 155 were sold.

The opening price of an Iphone 6 with 16G storage was 1,800 yuan and it was sold for 2,900 yuan.

The most popular items were gift cards and coupons, said an unnamed staff member with the Hubei Integrity Auction Co., Ltd. The initial prices of the cards and coupons were 78 percent of their value.

"Gift cards worth 10,000 yuan mostly sold for 9,300 yuan, with a commission fee of about 400 yuan," he said.

"In the past, business gifts handed in by public servants were put in warehouses, which was a waste," said an official with the local discipline inspection commission. "By having an auction, we are making the confiscation of business gifts more transparent and avoiding waste in the meantime."

One auction bidder, Mr. Fei, bought three painting and calligraphy items.

"By holding the auction, the local government is warning Party members and cadres to abide by regulations and resist temptation," he said.

China's anti-corruption campaign shifted up a gear following the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in late 2012. Two documents -- the norms of political life within the Party under the new situation and a regulation on intra-Party supervision -- were released following the sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee to further regulate Party members.

Qiao Xinsheng, director of the clean governance research institute at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, noted that the move showed the local government's resolution to fight corruption.

"The auction solved problems left over from previous years," he said. "With growing awareness of anti-corruption, fewer business gifts will be given and taken, and such auctions will disappear."

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