Government and Policy

China tightens oversight of 'naked officials'

By Xie Yu (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-26 07:52
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Beijing - The Communist Party of China (CPC) has released new restrictions governing "naked officials", or those whose family members have all gone abroad.

The new regulation, the second of its kind this month, was issued by the general offices of the State Council and the CPC Central Committee as CPC's latest drive to fight corruption.

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These restrictions refer to officials whose children and spouses have migrated overseas. However, skilled Chinese professionals who leave the country and later return to work in China with approval from the authorities are exempted from these rules.

The rules stipulate that these officials must disclose their rank, the whereabouts of their spouses and children if they have moved overseas, while overseeing any and all roles these officials play in matters of public affairs. These rules also dictate the procedures these officials must follow when applying for personal passports, as well as requiring them to disclose any travel plans to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan prior to departure.

Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said it is the first formal regulation issued by the central government to manage "naked officials".

"It shows the central government is positive in replying to the demands of society," he said, adding that "effective management can strengthen the prevention of corruption".

Ren Jianming, a professor with the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University, said the move is timely because migration is likely to increase as China opens up.

Major scandals have erupted in recent years involving corrupt officials or family members fleeing abroad with unearned wealth, often to Western countries to avoid prosecution under Chinese law.

Many of these officials sent their spouses and children abroad, before transferring their money from China.

Local governments have begun to explore ways to handle this issue.

Authorities in Shenzhen, for instance, issued a regulation in November prohibiting "naked officials" from serving as leading officials in major party and government departments.

Earlier this month, China issued an anti-corruption regulation requiring officials to report changes in their marital status, the whereabouts of their spouses and children if they have moved abroad, personal income, housing and their family investments.

The regulation immediately attracted widespread attention, with almost 50,000 people prompted to leave comments on China's two biggest Internet portal websites the day the regulation was released.