Top 7 reasons Chinese government officials should be more transparent

The New York Times recently wrote an article about the financial holdings of Vice Premier Wen Jiabao, claiming that his family has amassed a fortune of nearly 2.7 billion dollars.
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Nov. 15, 2012 - PRLog -- The New York Times recently wrote an article about the financial holdings of Vice Premier Wen Jiabao, claiming that his family has amassed a fortune of nearly 2.7 billion dollars. The journalist from the NY Times, David Barboza, used publicly available records to connect the financial dots of the hidden fortune, much to the dismay of the Communist Party and Wen Jiabao himself. Ultimately, the Chinese government censored the NY Times article. Here are some reasons why government officials in China should attempt to be more transparent.

1. Secrecy breeds suspicion: The Communist Party has long been secretive in their decision making process and financial disclosure and many Chinese citizens feel that they are left in the dark when policy is being made in China. Regardless if they are acting in good faith to the public or not, because a veil of secrecy protects government officials from financial transparency, the public may always have a certain suspicion that something is corrupt.

2. Public officials should have open financial records because of conflicts of interest: In the United States, politicians are required to disclose their financial records so that any conflicts of interest may be transparent to public. For example, if Senator X has $50,000 invested in company Y, and then writes laws that that help company Y’s business operation, this could be interpreted as a conflict of interest because he will profit from the law he wrote.

3. Government officials represent the people: Public officials represent the people, the hard working middle and working class laborers that struggle day in and day out to make ends meet in China. These people should have knowledge of how government officials operate financially so as to create a harmonious society that Confucius preached.

4. It prevents scandals: Corruption scandals involving bribery can be mitigated with more transparency and foster more trust between the lay people and government officials. In the recent Bo Xilai scandal, it became apparent that he accepted bribes for his own personal profit. If more and more of these scandals come to fruition, then Chinese people will have less faith in their government. Bo Xilai may not have accepted bribes if there was more transparency required in the government system.

5. Internet Hackers: The Human Flesh Search seeks to expose misbehavior of many Chinese that do wrong. In the future, it may be likely that brave Chinese hackers will try to expose government corruption and increase transparency for the good of the public. Why take the risk of some tabloid story that can devastate the party in the public’s image? Just be transparent.

6. China is changing: It took time for China to adopt a free market economy from 1979, and Deng Xiaoping used experimental special economic zones to test if socialism with Chinese characteristics would benefit the Communist country. Maybe after the upcoming 18th Party Congress is selected, Chinese leaders can experiment with political transparency in certain cities and provinces. While overnight government transparency in China may not be likely in the short term, in the long run, it may be valuable to experiment with transparency to see if it will work.

7. China will be in the spotlight for years to come: China’s rise to world power has brought it to the forefront of the world and it will undoubtedly be under intense scrutiny in the years to come. More journalists, like David Barboza, from the NY Times will attempt to piece together how the Chinese government operates, its financial holdings, and lack of transparency. Instead of constantly trying to veil the governments’ operation in secrecy from these investigative journalists, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to just be transparent.

Peter Wang, China travel consultant from , a local travel agency in Beijing providing various tours around China.
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