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China Daily Website

Hukou and homes are clues to fighting corruption

Updated: 2013-02-04 22:04
( chinadaily.com.cn)

A vice-manager of a county-level bank was found to be the owner of 41 properties in Beijing and the holder of four residence permits in her hometown in Shaanxi province and in Beijing.

Her properties in Beijing are worth around 300 million yuan ($48 million). One resident is only allowed to have one residence permit, as many welfare benefits and the property purchase quota are linked to this, says an article in China Business News. Excerpts:

Similar cases have also been revealed recently by social media in Henan, Fujian and Guangdong provinces, involving officials from banks, housing administrations and local government disciplinary watchdogs.

Several police officers involved have been dismissed. But this is far from enough. The authorities must conduct a thorough investigation of all such people, something which is not hard to do in the information era.

The residence permit system — known in Chinese as hukou — should be reformed.

It is now used mainly to set rural residents apart from their urban counterparts and as a means to control real estate sales and property ownership.

As the new leadership of the Communist Party of China has vowed to fight corruption and abuses of power, hukou and property ownership data should serve as useful clues in tracking down and investigating problematic officials.

There are many ways to "cage" powers. Disclosure of officials' assets and monitoring of their property ownership can be the first steps toward building this "cage".

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