Corruption in Officials’ Private Lives

Signs of official corruption are often seen first in cadres’ private lives. The Outlook Weekly (《瞭望》) reports [CN] on government supervision, the role of civil society in monitoring corruption, and possible take-away lessons from foreign countries. Translation of excerpt by CDT:

“In order squelch corruption in officials’ lives, not only must we rely on internal monitoring, but on the power of civil society as well,” said Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher Yin Yungong during our interview. “As for local excessive uses of power, we need to move forward with research and reform so that public power might be able to achieve an effective check and balance system. At the same time, we need to go through legislative channels, complete reports, investigations, punishments, and other methods in order to bring officials’ private lives under the supervision of the media and the public as soon as a problem has been discovered to merit serious accountability.” [...]

Many experts believe that corrupt officials feel a need to use ‘individual privacy’ as a safeguard to protect themselves; striking at corrupt officials requires first removing this false protective umbrella. Officials, as individuals in public power, do not have to disclose all information pertaining to their personal lives, but information on their personal lives relating to their official image and “quality” should be made open and brought under supervision. For example, an individual’s marriage, property situation, significant other, children’s job situations, and other main societal ties should be within the sight of organizations and the public in order to place limits on officials’ honest self-regulation. However, the privacy of an individual’s hobbies, eating habits, family affairs, and regular life should be protected.

In this regard, a few methods adopted by foreign countries are worth referencing. In America, government officials’ private lives are one of the media’s chief focal points. An everwatching eye has served to set a large restriction on official behavior.