China bans government elites from holding overseas real estate assets

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Getty)
Chinese President Xi Jinping (Getty)

That’s what Xi said.

The Communist Party in China is banning its key members and their families from holding real estate assets abroad in a move it hopes will help insulate the government from potential sanctions by other countries.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting a notice sent out by the party’s Central Organization Authority “prohibits spouses and children of ministerial-level officials from holding — directly or indirectly — any real estate abroad or shares in entities registered overseas.”

Those officials and their families would also be barred from creating accounts with overseas financial institutions unless they had immediate business in the area, such as schooling or work, according to the report.

It is unclear if the rules, issued last March, are retroactive, but some officials have already sold off shares they owned in overseas companies to comply.

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The new rules come as the United States and other Western countries have used sanctions targeting the funds of Russian officials, business people and oligarchs in order to punish leadership in Moscow for its attack on neighboring Ukraine. It is believed the ban was put in place to minimize the political risk should such sanctions be pointed toward China.

“Leading cadres, especially senior cadres, must pay attention to family discipline and ethics,” Xi reportedly told the party’s top disciplinary agency in January, adding that his officials should “lead by example in managing their spouses and children properly, being a dutiful person and doing things in a clean way.”

Officials are now being told to sign pledges proclaiming they are abiding by the new rules.

Xi has long claimed to be fighting corruption and appearances of misdeeds by public officials in China through such campaigns as one in 2014 that went after 3,200 so-called “naked officials” who had relocated children and spouses abroad and hoarded assets overseas.

China does not prohibit citizens of the country from investing in offshore firms or even setting up their own, according to the report.

[ Wall Street Journal] — Vince DiMiceli