May 12, 2008 / 4:56 AM / 10 years ago

Chinese want to know how much officials paid: survey

BEIJING (Reuters) - Less than a month after China put into effect a new law supposed to boost government transparency most Chinese want to know one thing — how much officials get paid, a state newspaper said on Monday.

China passed regulations last year demanding the government disclose information about issues affecting the public interest in a bid to combat rampant corruption and discourage cover-ups enabled by often secretive decision-making processes.

But money appears to be on the top of many people’s minds, the China Youth Daily said, citing to a survey it jointly conducted with popular web portal sina.com.

“About 77.5 percent of people chose ‘assets of government officials’ as the information they most wanted to know about,” the newspaper said.

Land seizures, house demolitions and how the government reacts to “sudden public incidents” were also high on the list of information citizens wanted to know, the report added.

The law empowers ordinary Chinese citizens to demand information about government finances and economic plans, environmental regulations and many other polices.

But the ruling Communist Party does not want a free-for-all, and the rules offer a broad opt-out for officials, saying that information released “should not harm state security, economic security or social stability”.

Yet the Party is also keen to show it is tackling corruption, a problem so serious that officials have warned it could lead to their losing power.

In January, a group of conservative Chinese intellectuals made a rare public call for Western-style laws requiring officials, including President Hu Jintao, to declare their personal assets to curb official corruption.

Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Ben Blanchard

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