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China Increases Oversight of 'Naked Officials'
Update: 7/26/2010 12:46:00 AM Source: China Travel

Party and government officials whose spouse and children have emigrated overseas are to be subject to strict examination when applying for private passports and going abroad, according to a new regulation released Sunday.

A provisional regulation by the General Offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council specified new rules overseeing the issuing of private passports and travel passes to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan to such officials.

Party and government leaders of this kind have become so renowned in China that they have a shared nickname, "naked officials." They usually moved their spouses and children, as well as their assets, to foreign countries, and they put the money into their wives' or children's bank accounts. Even if they were eventually apprehended, the wealth transferred to overseas banks still belonged to the officials' families.

According to the new rules, "naked officials" should submit written accounts on all income and property owned by their spouse and children living overseas, and on any changes in their financial conditions.

"Officials whose duties or services are related to the countries and regions their spouses and offspring are living in should voluntarily report it to their higher authorities. If conflicts of interests are involved, the officials must avoid holding related posts," the regulation said.

The regulation stated that such officials should "strictly comply with relevant laws and regulations" when applying for passports and travel passes, or applying for traveling or emigrating abroad.

Officials above deputy-county head level applying for passports should consult with their higher authorities, it said, adding that a thorough examination should be conducted when promoting officials whose family members have emigrated abroad.

A statement from the CPC Central Committee General Office said the new regulation is "an important anti-corruption measure" to make officials self-disciplined, clean, reliable and to be people of integrity.

"The regulation not only stresses education, management and supervision of civil servants whose spouse and offspring live aboard, but also focuses on the protection of their interests and working enthusiasm," it said.

The regulation covers all civil servants, but excludes those top-ranking specialists in high-tech fields who have been recruited from overseas, along with high-qualified overseas returnees.

Experts say this is the latest effort to place officials' actions in the public's view.

In September 2009, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection first ordered increased oversight of "naked officials."

The municipal government of Shenzhen of southern Guangdong Province then implemented regulations in November 2009, including provisions saying that "naked official" should not become department chiefs or leading members of key departments.

Earlier this month, the two general offices issued another regulation, designed to curb corruption and increase transparency about the assets of government officials. It required officials at deputy county chief level and above to annually report their assets, marital status, whereabouts and employment of family members.

The reporting system for monitoring Party and government officials was set up in 1995, and revised in 1997 and 2006 by broadening the list of items and adding detailed procedures.

Prof. Li Chengyan of Peking University said the two regulations that were announced recently were "a substantial step" towards the establishment of an asset declaration system for China's civil servants.

Editor: Canton Fair

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