04/05/2012, 00.00
CHINA
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In Guangzhou, protesters call on Hu Jintao to "take the lead in disclosing assets"

Police in Guangdong's capital detain at least two protesters. Planned asset disclosure law has not yet been adopted.

Guangzhou (AsiaNews) - Police detained at least two people who took to the streets in Guangzhou calling for democratic reform and publicly demanding Communist Party chief Hu Jintao declare his personal assets. They were part of a group of nine people in their 20s or 30s protested in Guangzhou's Tianhe district, holding small pieces of paper and large cardboard placards that read 'Hu Jintao, please take the lead in disclosing assets", "No votes, no future" and "Equality, justice, freedom, human rights, rule of law, democracy".

Xiao Yong, 37, went missing on Tuesday afternoon. The whereabouts of three other protesters, Ou Ronggui, Yang Chong and Huang Wenxun, is also unknown.

Tang Jingling, a Guangzhou-based legal activist, told the South China Morning Post that Huang, a student at Sun Yat-sen University, was detained at a police station in Haizhu district.

Xiao's wife said that police delivered a detention notice to her apartment, alleging that her husband had been involved in an "unlawful assembly".

Chinese leaders have often said that the disclosure of public officials' personal financial information was an effective means of tackling corruption, but they have not been made it mandatory, even after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress planned the legislation in 1994.

The existing reporting mechanism of officials' assets keeps the details within party organs after officials above the sub-county level report their personal incomes, the employment status of their children and spouses, and their property interests and investments.

Although Premier Wen Jiabao has explicitly raised the issue of transparency, people making similar demands have usually been punished.

For example, some 180 internet users who signed a petition last month calling on top leaders to declare their assets were invited by police for a "cup of tea", a euphemism for unofficial questioning.

 

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