Grete Chan, 21 February 2013
While the new president of the People’s Republic of China promises great improvements in terms of fighting corruption and seeking to downsize the largest political party in the world by ridding ‘unqualified members’, policymakers are seeking to ban property ‘name searches’. As authorities in Zhangzhou (Fujian Province) and Yancheng (Jiangsu Province) banned its residents from searching for property ownership history under the owner’s name, the Beijing Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction reportedly issued an internal memo forbidding its employees to search property holdings by owner name. The reasoning behind this is for ‘privacy protection’.
Netizens are concerned that this could be a front to allow corrupt politicians to grow their wealth undetected as a reaction when Jinping announced to fight ‘tigers and flies‘. One of the most popular destination now for wealthy politicians to to dump their money is in Hong Kong SAR, to take advantage of certain loopholes that pops up now and then.
Even though Hong Kong SAR has their own database to search for the transaction history of properties, the prohibition in China will prove difficult to trace the complete history, thus cutting off the trail of due diligence, allowing for greater outbound of ill gotten funds.
Whether this move was supported by the PRC president, that is the question, but as the president opens up China and tries to show a new face to the world, the policymakers shuts the door again in the shadows.