China wants property owners to register their real estate assets and other fixed holding, giving authorities a powerful new weapon against corruption.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, ordered the land ministry to establish a unified registration system for real estate, according to the Financial Times.
The lack of such a system has enabled corrupt officials to stash their wealth in real estate with little risk of discovery.
The new policy comes as the government prepares to roll out a property tax, which is being tested in Shanghai and Chongqing.
Most Chinese property assets are subject to registration but records are dispersed among many different agencies, hindering authorities’ ability to identify how much property an individual controls.
The latest rules do not specify whether the planned database will be accessible to the public, a step many anti-corruption advocates say is necessary to maximise its impact.
Plans for a centralised system have circulated since at least 2010 but opposition from local officials has stalled implementation.
The new rules take effect on March 1, when local governments must begin building their registration system.
It remains unclear when new registrations under the system will begin.
In March, land minister Jiang Daming said China would need three years to establish a unified registration system for real estate and four years to create an information platform to manage the data.
In addition to buildings, the rules will cover land, maritime property and forests.
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