Chinese law targets civil service nepotism

By on 09/01/2019 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Follow the money: new Chinese law seeks to disrupt the ‘revolving door’ between government and business

A new law attacking nepotism in the civil service has been adopted by Chinese lawmakers, as part of leader Xi Jinping’s drive against corruption. Under the new legislation, officials will be barred from working as the managers of regulators or administrative departments which oversee businesses run by their own spouses, children, or spouses of their children.

The law also reforms civil service promotion, recruitment and the rewards system. Civil servants who perform well in certain circumstances should be rewarded, while those who fail their performance appraisals could face demotion, the law states. It has also strengthened supervision of civil servants, according to state news service

The country’s top legislature – the National People’s Congress Standing Committee – voted through the changes at the end of December.

Xi’s anti-corruption drive

Nearly 30,000 people responded to the consultation on the draft revised law, according to an official from the Organisation Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. The revised law will come into effect on 1 June 2019.

The legislation is part of ongoing efforts to reduce corruption in the Chinese civil service, which is widely seen as connected via a “revolving door” to the business world.

In 2017, new rules were introduced preventing senior officials from taking jobs in profit-making organisations within their region for three years after they leave the public sector, and barring them from moving into jobs covered by their former responsibilities. Lower-ranking officials face a block on taking private sector jobs for two years after leaving public positions.

Sisyphean labour

Tang Yalin, professor of public administration at Fudan University, commented in a blog on Chinese news site that the culture of “guanbenwei”, under which government officers are placed at the top of the social ladder, runs deep in the country.

“There is still plenty of room for concern over the continued existence of transactional relationships and collusion between officials and businesspeople. Only by installing checks on official power can equality between public servants and other professions be guaranteed, and the health of markets and society be assured,” he wrote.

About Catherine Early

Catherine is a journalist and editor specialising in government policy and regulation. She writes predominantly about environmental issues and has held permanent roles at the Environmentalist (now known as Transform), the ENDS Report, Planning magazine and Windpower Monthly, and has also written for the Guardian, the Ecologist and China Dialogue. She was a finalist in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition 2009, and was part of the team that won PPA Business Magazine of the Year 2011 for Windpower Monthly. She also won an outstanding content award at Haymarket Media Group’s employee awards for data-led stories in Planning magazine. She holds a 2:1 honours degree in English language and literature from Birmingham University.

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