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Saturday, Jun 7, 2014

Asia

Guangdong pulls up 'naked officials' in anti-graft probe

China Daily/ANN | Saturday, Jun 7, 2014

CHINA - The Guangdong provincial government said it has adjusted the posts of 866 "naked officials" - civil servants whose family members have migrated overseas - amid the ongoing anti-graft campaign.

Officials whose spouses have emigrated or those who don't have spouses but whose children have all left the country are deemed to be "naked officials" in the three-month-long probe, according to a statement released on Friday by the provincial government.

The adjustment involves nine prefecture-level officials and 134 county-level officials, said the statement.

It's the first time a provincial government has adjusted the posts of so many "naked officials".

The statement did not touch on whether the adjustment is a punishment to the officials. Xinhua News Agency reported that they were asked to retire early, transferred to less important posts or had resigned.

Another 200 "naked officials" have been trying to persuade family members to give up their permanent residence permits, said the report.

Zhu Lijia, a professor of public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the reason these officials are such a big threat to clean governance is because it's easier for them to transfer illegal gains overseas.

As China has not made any laws to regulate "naked officials", it's urgent to create new regulations, he said.

According to the Guangdong Party Organisation Department, most of the reassigned officials work in the prosperous Pearl River Delta region bordering the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

In Dongguan alone, 127 Party and government officials, including 19 county-level officials, have been adjusted due to their "naked" status.

Jiangmen, known to be home to a large number of overseas Chinese, is another city where many officials have been reassigned.

In one recent high-profile case, Fang Xuan, the former deputy Party secretary of Guangzhou whose family members have all emigrated, was asked to leave his post in May before reaching the retirement age of 60.

The reassignments are in response to an inspection team dispatched by the country's top anti-graft watchdog, which said in February that the "naked officials" problem in Guangdong province was "outstanding".

The local government then initiated a campaign to probe the problem.

In January, the Communist Party of China Central Committee released a regulation saying that officials whose spouses and children have emigrated could not get promoted. It was the first time the Party's central authorities had put restrictions on the "naked officials".

The number of these officials has never been officially released.

Zheng Fenming, director of the Institute of Modernization Strategy at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said adjusting "naked officials" and not promoting them is a remedial measure in preventing corruption.

"Fighting official corruption should not rely only on the investigation from the anti-graft bodies and relevant departments," Zheng said.

Zhang Yiri, an associate professor at Guangzhou City Polytechnic, said investigating "naked officials" and not promoting them will aid in the fight against corruption involving Party and government officials.

"Naked officials' patriotism and incorruptibility are certainly worth being questioned when they are alone in the mainland," Zhang said.

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