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Business dealings of spouses and children of Beijing cadres to be investigated, reports Xinhua

The business dealings of all Beijing city officials’ spouses and children will be investigated by the end of 2017, the official Xinhua News Agency said, as part of a push to restore party discipline and battle graft.

The extended families of Communist Party cadres have become a key battleground in President Xi Jinping’s war on corruption, which has punished thousands of officials since he came to power in late 2012.

Many cases of corruption have involved officials registering businesses and property under the names of relatives, allowing them to meet the letter of party guidelines while still using their influence to amass wealth.

Xi sees extravagance and corruption as an existential threat to the party, whose authority is in part predicated on its ability to spread the gains of China’s growth fairly among its people.

A drive to investigate officials’ business dealings will cover their spouses and children by the end of next year, Xinhua said late on Monday, citing the Beijing Organisational Department, which handles party personnel appointments.

The new regulations, originally released in May, require that nationwide business dealings be investigated. After the first citywide audits are finished by the end of 2017, 20 per cent of all Beijing cadres will have their relatives investigated in each subsequent year, Xinhua said.

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Those who do not meet the regulation’s standards would have to “supervise” their spouses and children and make them abort their business dealings, the news agency said.

Some cadres might have to quit or change positions, it added.

Xinhua did not say if parents or extended family members outside of spouses and children would be covered, and it did not say if the results would be open to the public.

Currently, officials are not subject to public asset disclosure requirements. China also does not have an independent anti-corruption body, and insists the party and the government can police itself.

Xi’s crackdown on corruption has moved in recent months away from high-profile officials to weeding out daily corruption at the grassroots, making almost anyone a potential target.

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The drive for a clean party, referred to in official documents as “intra-party supervision”, was the focus of a four-day meeting of senior party officials in Beijing in October, which concluded by anointing Xi as ‘core’ leader of the party.

Family members have also become embroiled in China’s attempts to repatriate corrupt officials who have fled overseas, with the relatives of China’s most-wanted abroad being lobbied to pressure the suspects to hand themselves in.