China reformer says asset disclosure under study

Asset disclosure for Chinese officials is likely to be slowly phased in over time, a senior Communist Party leader said on Friday, as the government grapples with the fraught task of rooting out the corruption that has fed widespread public anger.

The comments from Wang Yang, a member of the decision-making Politburo with a reputation as a reformer, came a day after the party opened a week-long congress to install a new leadership with a call to fight corruption.

Speaking to reporters, Wang said that the province he runs, Guangdong, is exploring methods for officials to declare their wealth and that in the future public disclosure of assets will be required of all officials.

"Officials will slowly all disclose their assets,'' Wang said after a meeting with congress delegates from Guangdong. He did not give a time frame.

Wang's comments highlight the handwringing at many levels of the party over its inability to tamp down on the corruption by officials and their family members that has deepened public disgust and fed many of the tens of thousands of protests that hit China yearly.

At the congress's opening Thursday, President Hu Jintao warned that unrestrained graft threatened to topple the party's continued rule. He called on the party's 82 million members to be ethical and to stop their family members from trading on their connections to amass fortunes.

The congress itself had no public agenda on Friday. Delegations met separately to discuss the lengthy report Hu delivered. But in fact, most of the delegates have little say over the main agenda. The selection of younger leaders to replace Hu and his colleagues is done behind the scenes by the departing leadership, retired party elders and other power brokers.

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