Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign

Beijing cracks down on its 'naked officials'

In an effort to fight graft, Party cadres will no longer be permitted to easily travel abroad

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 8:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 6:53pm

Cadres in Beijing who plan to travel abroad now face harsher restrictions as part of a nation-wide crackdown on corruption.

According to a May decree by the Organisation Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, officials above the level of division head, generally referring to county governors in Beijing, will “generally not be permitted” to travel abroad, Party mouthpiece Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Those who insist on leaving the country must undergo “rigorous vetting procedures,” and will only be allowed to travel on government passports. In certain cases they may need to temporarily let their private passports be managed by Party superiors.

Retired officials must also seek permission before travelling abroad, and the decree calls for the implementation of a “cadre supervision system, where leading cadres who are found or suspected of flight must be reported to the Organisation Department’s supervision bureau within 48 hours.”

Beijing Youth Daily cited the example of a government worker surnamed Liu who tried to travel abroad with his family after the decree had been issued. He was informed that he would only be able to do so if he turned in his private passport and received approval from his superiors.

“If you think it’s too much trouble, then maybe change your plans and travel within the country,” officials purportedly told Liu.

The new decree, which also emphasises that cadres in charge of property and confidential files will be under strict supervision if travel access is granted, has likely been instituted to keep a close eye on so-called “naked officials” – workers who use graft money to purchase homes and property in other countries for family members, a move usually taken as a sign of future intentions to flee the mainland. 

Beijing’s new regulations on “naked officials”  follows a similar crackdown in Guangdong last month, where the provincial government identified 2,190 government workers with spouses and children living abroad, sacking 866. 

Figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce indicate that from 1978 to 2003, about 4,000 “naked officials” fled China, taking with them approximately US$50 billion dollars.

In early 2014, state media reported that “naked officials” would be barred from promotion because their ability to escape overseas made them potential graft risks.