Hong Kong Reports: Asset Disclosure by Top Chinese Officials Spells Trouble for Propaganda Chief

March 23, 2015 Updated: January 7, 2016

For third straight year, the seven most powerful officials in China have disclosed their personal assets, with most showing decreases. However, since the figures were not released by any Chinese regime agency or state-run media, the disclosures are likely meant as a political ploy against communist official Liu Yunshan, whose assets increased.

Take these claims with as large a grain of salt as you like—they come from The Trend, a Hong Kong magazine which regularly purveys political rumors from the mainland. It seems that, often enough, the publication is used by people in the Xi Jinping administration, when they want to leak news or get a message out to the world. Thus, while it’s rarely possible, though, the material is indicative of which way the political winds are blowing, even when the details can’t be relied upon.

Its new edition reports on the supposed savings and properties of the seven most powerful men in China—members of the Standing Committee of the Central Politburo, which directs the Chinese Communist Party. The Trend doesn’t say how it got access to such highly secret information, of course—but readers willing to indulge in credulity for a moment can read on.

Current Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping had savings of 1.6 million yuan (about $257,000) and one property in his name, according to The Trend, down from 2.3 million yuan and 3 properties in 2012.

Wang Qishan, who heads the Communist Party’s anti-corruption agency, saw his wealth shrink from 4.8 million yuan (about $773,000) and 2 properties to 1.28 million yuan during the three-year span.

The disclosures, The Trend says, are an attempt by Chinese regime leaders to set an example for fellow Party officials to also come clean with their own assets. It hasn’t caught on in officialdom, however. For example, Zeng Qinghong, a retired Politburo member, barked off anti-corruption officials in January when they demanded him to disclose the assets controlled by him and his relatives, The Trend says.

Deep-seated systemic corruption is common in China. The Chinese Academy of Social Science released a report on the development of rule of law in China on March 18, states that about 500 Party officials were investigated daily in 2014.

A Jab at China’s Propaganda Chief

Rather conspicuously, the monetary and real estate assets of one official in particular, Liu Yunshan, spiked this year. Liu, who is also in charge of the Chinese regime’s official media and propaganda, saw his savings jump to 2.6 million yuan (about $418,000) and 2 properties from 1.7 million yuan and one property a year earlier, as reported on Sina, a major Chinese web portal.

The Trend, in a separate article, reported that senior reporters in Beijing are preparing materials on Liu as they anticipate his removal from his current post. Part of his charges are expected to involve corruption in Chinese education agencies, which cooperate closely with the Propaganda Department that Liu heads.  

Liu Yunshan’s actual wealth is much more than the two properties and the hundreds of thousands of dollars declared to be in his possession.

According to a 2012 report by the news service New-Way Monthly, Liu had built up an empire with wealth in excess of ten billion yuan ($1.6 billion).  And his son Liu Lefei, aged 31, became the general manager at the investment department of China Life Insurance Company, with  investment assets over 500 billion yuan (about $80.5 billion) under his management. In 2006, the younger Liu was promoted to general manager of investment at the insurance company.

Liu had exercised his influence to land his son a position at the insurance company, the report said.

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