April 23, 2010 / 9:10 AM / 9 years ago

China demands senior officials report spousal changes

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - China’s ruling Communist Party demanded on Friday that senior officials report when they dump or lose spouses, as well as what their families get up to overseas, in the latest stab at tackling corruption.

The party has made similar demands in the past, pressing officials to disclose their assets, including overseas property and investments made by family members.

China’s fast-growing market economy, with many key investment decisions in government hands, offers plenty of opportunities for officials to enrich themselves and their families.

Beijing fears official malfeasance and graft is undermining its authority and sparking protests by disgruntled workers and farmers.

Under the latest rules, senior party members will have to “submit reports to the government, detailing their property and investment activity, including the overseas business dealings of spouses and children,” the official Xinhua news agency said.

“Leading officials at all levels (will have) to report changes of spouses, what their spouses and children do abroad, personal income, and the housing and investment of their family,” it added.

There have been numerous scandals in past years involving corrupt officials, or their family members, fleeing abroad with ill-gotten gains, often to Western nations leery of returning people to the vagaries of Chinese law.

According to Ministry of Commerce statistics, some 4,000 corrupt officials ferreted about $50 billion out of the country since the beginning of economic reforms in 1978 through to 2003.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard

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