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Party leaders called on to disclose assetsThree retired officials, including daughter of a revolutionary, post letter online urging top echelon to reveal personal finances before congress meetingZhuang Pinghui19 May 2012Three retired party officials - including the daughter of a revolutionary - have called for top communist leaders to disclose their finances in the latest sign of mounting pressure for reform ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership change this autumn.In an open letter posted online yesterday, the three former officials, who include Ma Xiaoli, a former United Front Department official who is the daughter of a revolutionary under Mao Zedong, urged party leaders to increase transparency.The letter, which was also signed by Ren Xiaobin and Cui Wunian, former section heads of the Central Organisation Department, said candidates for the party’s Central Committee and Central Commission for Discipline Inspection “should and must disclose to the 18th Party Congress their private and family wealth”.“The new party leadership must show their determined stance to the broader party and their countrymen by adopting zero-tolerance for corruption by party officials,” the retirees wrote. “Without such an attitude, we believe the new party leadership will not be trusted by ordinary party members and citizens.”The letter cited the revelations surrounding the downfall of former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai. Bo was removed from his top party post after events that began in February with his former police chief seeking protection from US diplomats and peaked last month with his wife’s implication in the murder of a British businessman.“This incident has particularly shocked a broad number of ordinary party members,” the letter said. “What state is the party in that its high echelons produced a case of evil that far surpassed any story in One Thousand and One Nights?”The three said they sent their letter to the party’s Central Committee in February, but published it after three months of silence and subsequent revelations involving Bo.Analysts said the public appeal, while noteworthy because of the status of its authors, was unlikely to carry much weight. But repeated members’ calls for reform shows the pace of change has lagged behind what some would expect, they said.“Instead of representing the ordinary people’s interests, it is increasingly seen as representing the interests of the powerful and those who profit from the current system,” said Hu Xingdou, a professor with the Beijing Institute of Technology.Han Deyun, a lawyer and National People’s Congress deputy from Chongqing, proposed legislation for the past seven sessions that would require officials to disclose their personal and family wealth.Han said it was within party members’ rights to petition for reform.“It’s not up to this or that official to go ahead, but up to the pace of the overall political reform,” Han said. Yesterday’s letter follows a widely criticised article in the Central Party School-affiliated Study Times, which asserted that establishing an asset-disclosure system for public officials would take at least 10 years.
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