Source: Getty Images

Stocks, Sex and Golf: China's Ruling Party Targets Temptations

Updated on
  • New code of conduct puts limits on Communist cadres' behavior
  • Party looking to shore up morals amid anti-graft campaign

China’s Communist Party is looking to damp the temptation among its 88 million members to play the stock market.

An updated code of conduct governing party members’ behavior spells out tighter limits on stock market investing -- along with stricter rules against owning golf-club memberships or having inappropriate sexual relations. Leaders are seeking to shore up the party’s image as President Xi Jinping presses ahead with an anti-graft campaign that’s toppled thousands of cadres.

Applicable to all party members for the first time, the rules stipulate they should not invest in stocks or other securities if the trades don’t meet regulations related to making personal gains. The code of conduct didn’t spell out those regulations, leaving them open to interpretation.

A further provision in the code bans members from holding shares in non-public entities under the same terms. The updated code was adopted at a Politburo meeting in early October and published by the official Xinhua News Agency. Violators risk expulsion from the party if they violate the rules, which take effect Jan. 1.

Xinhua described the regulations as “the most comprehensive and strictest since the opening up and reform drive began.” The earlier guidelines, released in 2003, included vague language that banned party members from taking part in the market if doing so “violated the rules.”

Under the new code, party members could face expulsion if they publicly oppose the party’s core principles or support “bourgeois liberalization” via media platforms including the Internet or in speeches and forums. The regulations include a ban on “forming cliques” inside the party and seeking profits for family members.

“We have to use one yardstick to measure everything without giving an extra inch to anyone,” Wang Qishan, head of the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, said in a commentary in the official People’s Daily on Friday.

Xi’s anti-graft campaign has targeted scores of officials at the provincial and national levels, in the military and at state-owned enterprises. The financial sector also came into investigators’ cross-hairs after a market rout wiped $5 trillion from the value of shares.

China has 94.87 million individual investors, according to data complied by China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation Limited. It’s not known how many are party members.