SHANGHAI, May 5 (Reuters) – The Shanghai government has introduced rules to restrain the families of senior city officials from running private businesses, in a pilot measure that will eventually go nationwide in China’s sweeping campaign against corruption.
The rules are among the most direct attempts to short-circuit the cycle of graft in China since President Xi Jinping launched an anti-corruption drive after coming to power more than two years ago.
Xi gave his blessing to the new rules in March during the annual session of parliament, "requiring that Shanghai run the pilot and lead from the front," state media reported late on Monday.
The rules cover officials at the level of deputy bureau director and above in government, the ruling Communist Party, the judiciary, the local parliament as well as state-owned enterprises, the city government announced on its website.
"You can’t have your cake and eat it too," an article on the website quoted Han Zheng, party chief of the city of more than 24 million, as saying. "If you choose to be an official, you can’t go into business and strike it rich."
Reports in Chinese and foreign media about families of officials who have leveraged relationships to enrich themselves have ignited public anger.
Officials have come under fire for the behaviour of family members before. The party and government have ejected thousands of so-called "naked officials", whose spouses and children have emigrated abroad.
Spouses and children of senior officials in Shanghai cannot register individual businesses or partnerships, invest in non-listed enterprises or register a business overseas and do business back in China, the new rules say.
Spouses of senior officials are banned from holding top positions in private companies or senior appointed positions in foreign-invested enterprises, the city government said.
Their children and the children’s spouses may engage in business, but not in the locality where the official works, it added.
Senior city officials need to report the business activities of families, but punishments for not doing so were not stated.
In a bid to end corruption, Shanghai authorities on April 23 adopted a regulation banning spouses and children of public prosecutors and judges from serving as lawyers or in other jobs linked to the judiciary, state media have reported.