Government officials in China risk the sack if they use their influence to benefit a lover or become involved in other forms of corrupt behavior, according to a regulation released by the central government on Sunday.
Chu Huaizhi, professor with the Peking University School of Law said having a mistress is not only a moral fault but also a stimulant to corruption.
"Officials take advantage of their power to seek benefits for their lovers," Chu said.
He said punishing the civil servants according to moral standards is a basic requirement of a civilized society and a responsible government.
"Civil servants should be models of morality for the public and they must have high moral standards," Chu said.
He said the public demands that officials' wrongdoings and misconduct be punished.
"The regulation shows the government is listening to the public," he said.
Many officials punished for taking bribes recently turned out to have lovers or mistresses.
For example, Du Shicheng, former deputy secretary of the Shandong Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), was expelled from the Party for taking huge bribes and leading a dissolute life.
Local media reported that many of Du's wrong-doings were connected with his lovers.
"His mistresses egged him on," reported Zhi Yin, a national Chinese magazine which mainly carries feature stories.
An online survey on one of China's portal websites, www.qq.com, shows that about 81 percent of more than 92,000 netizens who cast votes agree that a public employee's extramarital affairs are by no means a mere moral issue, but always breed corruption.
The 55-article regulation, scheduled to take effect on June 1, details a variety of wrongdoings and misconduct and is designed "to make sure government officials perform their duties according to the law."
The regulation stipulates that government officials who engage in corruption, organize superstitious gatherings, use drugs, engage in the sex trade or fail to fulfill their duties can be demoted or fired.
The regulation also allows for the firing of government officials who abuse or abandon family members or refuse to support their elderly relations.
The regulation is "China's first to systematically stipulate what administrative punishments civil servants abusing their power will receive," sources said.
A press conference on detailing the regulation was jointly held by the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Ministry of Supervision, Ministry of Personnel and the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council on Sunday.
Qu Wanxiang, Vice Minister of Supervision, said "the regulation will help consolidate the CPC's ruling position, safeguard state power, improve ethical standards of officials and persuade them to adopt a clean, honest and down-to-earth work style to better serve the people."
The regulation said if a civil servant's failure to perform his or her duties results in accidents, disasters, environmental pollution and "mass protests", they can be reprimanded, demoted or sacked according to the severity of the incident.
The same punishment will be given to officials who fail to report or deal with major accidents, disasters and criminal cases in a timely manner. Officials can also be fired if their lax management causes public funds for disaster relief, poverty relief, citizen resettlement, social security and land appropriation compensation to be embezzled, damaged or lost.
Officials found guilty of fraud and misleading their superiors and the public will also face punishment, said the regulation.
The regulation said officials who repress criticism or retaliate against whistleblowers or destroy their letters or disclose details in the whistle-blower letters to the targeted will be reprimanded, demoted or fired accordingly.
Public employees who physically abuse and illegally detain citizens will also be punished along with those who interfere in elections by using threats, graft or violence.
Officials who illegally exit the country or stay overseas illegally will be fired.
Public employees who infringe on the state's reputation, organize or participate in anti-state gatherings or demonstrations, organize or attend illegal organizations and violate national policies on religion will be reprimanded, demoted or fired.
(Xinhua News Agency April 30, 2007)