Naked officials

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File:"Naked officials" (双规).JPEG
A cartoon about "naked officials" in China.

The term "luo guan" (裸官) literally means "naked official" and refers to those Chinese officials who have moved their spouses and children, as well as their financial assets, to foreign countries. Their spouses and children usually reside abroad and obtain foreign passports or permanent residence permits. It is believed that many such officials have been involved in corruption.

About 4,000 corrupt officials have fled the country, taking at least US$50 billion with them, between 1978 and 2003, a 2004 report from the Ministry of Commerce showed. Many of these officials had sent their spouses and children abroad first and then continued to transfer the money they took from China.

The "naked officials" phenomenon reflects the enhanced awareness of corrupt officials and the risks their corruption entails. It is directly proportional to China's strengthened anti-corruption drive, said Lin Zeng, an anti-corruption professor with the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

In recent years, the governments at all levels have heightened their alertness on officials who leave themselves a way out. The supervisory system in particular has been strengthened, while officials are appointed and promoted.

In January 2010, a communiqué issued by the fifth plenary session of the 17th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, stipulated that officials should report their property and investments, as well as the employment of their spouse and children, to the relevant authorities. These authorities should in turn particularly monitor those officials with family members living overseas.

On February 22, 2010, the Ministry of Supervision listed "supervision of ‘naked officials'" as a key task, saying a specialized monitoring system was likely to be set up within the year in order to keep a better overview of officials who have spouses or children living abroad in a bid to curb corruption.

On April 23, 2010, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee examined and approved the regulations on officials to honestly report their personal information, as well as the temporary provisions for strengthening supervision of officials who have spouses and children living abroad. Both regulations formed an important means to fight corruption.

On March 5, 2011, Minister of Supervision Ma Wen said that for the first time, China implemented a registration management in regards to its "naked officials" from 2011, adding an additional system would be introduced for officials to declare their personal assets, which could be publicly scrutinized.

On August 1, 2013, the Shantou Special Economic Zone in Guangdong Province issued China's first local anti-corruption regulation, stipulating that officials whose spouses and children have moved overseas, shall not hold the posts of principal chiefs in any governmental departments, state-owned enterprises, public institutions, people's organizations or other important units. The regulation is an important legislation in China to put the nation's anti-corruption drive into legal practice.

According to a regulation issued on Jan. 15, 2014 by the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the Party's top personnel agency, government officials with immediate family overseas are no longer eligible for promotion. The rule applies to those whose spouses have migrated abroad, or, if there is no spouse, those whose children have moved abroad.

In late March, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China sent 14 inspection teams to 11 provincial governments, one state-owned enterprise, one university and a central ministry to collect whistleblowing information on officials' misbehaviors.

In early June, the Guangdong provincial government said it transferred 866 naked officials to new posts amid the ongoing anti-graft campaign. It's the first time a provincial government has transferred so many naked officials.

The moves involved nine prefecture-level officials and 134 county-level officials, who were asked to retire early, transferred to less important posts or had resigned.

According to a statement released on July 14 through the website of the CCDI, there are lots of naked officials in East China's Fujian province.