China searches entire bureaucracy in 10 provinces to pinpoint 'naked officials'
All departments must submit reports on cadres' family background to single out those who are 'graft risks'
China's anti-graft watchdog is ramping up efforts to uncover so-called “naked officials” in 10 provinces by probing the entire ranks to see who has family abroad.
Anti-graft authorities are wary of such overseas connections, as it could be a way of moving large sums of money out of the country.
The official website of Jilin’s Dunhua county said it received orders from provincial authorities to collect information about the families of “government workers from all departments”.
The order was also sent to local governments in Anhui, Guizhou, Zhejiang, Hunan, Jilin and Sichuan, the Southern Metropolis Daily said.
Officials must pay particular attention to those whose relatives have “obtained foreign citizenship or foreign residence permits”, the notice said.
The Guizhou government has ordered departments of all levels to submit a summary by the end of July, according to an official statement.
"Naked officials”, a term signifying that the official has been left behind in China by their family, have been a rising concern in President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft crackdown against “tigers” and flies”, or powerful leaders and lowly bureaucrats.
Naked officials are considered a graft risk as most can easily travel abroad, emigrate or transfer money – which means they could evade investigation and punishment.
Wang Zhengnan, director of the ninth inspection team under the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), told officials in Fujian yesterday that they uncovered “many naked officials among middle-level” bureaucrats.
The results were in a feedback report by the CCDI, which has wrapped up the first round of inspection tours in 10 provinces and municipalities, as well as some state-owned enterprises and ministries.
The problem of “naked officials” are especially prevalent in Fujian, , a coastal province in the southeast; Guangdong; and other coast provinces with a history of emigration, Xu Yaotong, a professor from the China National School of Administration told the Southern Metropolis Daily.
In Guangdong, 866 officials, including nine bureau-level cadres and 134 department-level ones were forced to retire early, were demoted or transferred to nominal posts, the provincial authority said last month.
Until now, no severe punishments have been announced against naked officials. There is also no regulation requiring government employees to declare their assets.
Still, the Central Organisation Department – which is in charge of staffing, among others – issued a regulation barring all naked officials from holding key posts in the government and military.
These include those “whose spouses have moved abroad” or, if they have no spouse, “whose children have moved abroad”.
These cadres “should not hold services in chief posts in Communist Party committees, the people’s congress, discipline and legal departments, SOEs, posts related to military, diplomacy, public and national security, national defences and all the posts related to financial supervision and technological security”.
It defined “moving abroad” as “obtaining foreign citizenship or permanent or long-term foreign resident permits”.
Naked officials will be banned from promotion if their spouses or children fail to give up foreign citizenship, according to a separate regulation released by the organisation department in January.