Zhou Yongkang

More Communist Party officials expected to flee abroad

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 5:33am

Growing numbers of corrupt officials are likely to flee the country because of the crackdown on graft, according to a new government think tank report.

The number of Communist Party cadres escaping abroad may also rise because a lack of extradition pacts with some countries means fugitives may find bolt holes overseas, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said.

The academy's annual Blue Book of the Rule of Law said the anti-corruption watchdog should pay greater attention to officials moving their families or assets abroad and closely monitor people joining government service to nip graft in the bud.

"The phenomenon of the flight of officials is likely to escalate, particularly under the current anti-graft wave," said Lu Yanbin, a researcher at the academy's Institute of Law and the co-author of the yearbook. "Corrupt cadres are running out of places to live in this country."

The anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan promised in January that the Communist Party would increase efforts to punish officials who flee overseas. Some 1,631 fugitives - government officials or people working for state enterprises - were arrested in 2011, according to official figures.

Stolen assets of nearly eight billion yuan (HK$10 billion) were recovered from the suspects.

A previous report from the CASS said about 18,000 officials fled the country between 1995 and 2008, and smuggled out assets totaling 800 billion yuan.

The Blue Book also warned against senior officials promoting their aides and creating a "secretary gang" that may breed "organised crime and major violations".

The remarks appear to be a reference to the former security tsar Zhou Yongkang. He and a least four of his former secretaries are under investigation for corruption.

Former Zhou aides probed include Li Hualin, the former deputy general manager of China National Petroleum Corporation, and Ji Wenlin, the former deputy governor of Hainan. The yearbook expressed concern that the anti-corruption drive would punish so many officials it might lead to social instability.

Experts at the academy also predicted a pilot scheme requiring party officials to disclose their assets would be introduced in more areas this year.

Hundreds of officials in Guangdong province were required to disclose details of their finances in January, but the information was not made public.

The annual report suggests the scheme should cover relatively recently appointed officials, but veteran government staff should be excluded.

January's initiative came in the same month that Xu Zhiyong, a civil rights activist who has campaigned to get officials to disclose their assets, was jailed for four years in Beijing for "assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place".

The Blue Book also released an annual list on government transparency.

Among the 55 state institutions listed, the National Railway Administration came bottom of the table with a score of zero because its website was not publicly accessible. The state bureau handling petitions was second last.

The criteria for openness included publishing an annual report and making information easily accessible to the public.