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February 22, 2010

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China to monitor 'naked officials'

THE Chinese government is strengthening efforts to monitor officials whose wife and children live abroad, as such officials are prone to abuse power.

The term "naked official" has been selected as one of the country's top 10 buzzwords of 2009 by linguists. It refers to officials whose family members have moved overseas, while they continue to work on the Chinese mainland. They usually have a visa for the other country.

The "naked official" phenomenon has attracted attention because there have been cases where such officials have been found to be corrupt.

Pang Jiayu, former vice chairman of the provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Shaanxi Province, had his wife and son emigrate to Canada in 2002, six years before he was sentenced to prison for 12 years for bribery and dereliction of duty.

Zhou Jinhuo, former director of the Industry and Commerce Bureau of Fujian Province, tried to flee overseas in June 2006 when he found himself being investigated by anti-corruption agencies. His wife had emigrated to the United States previously.

"It is reasonable to cast suspicion over the uprightness and honesty of officials who have arranged their family to live abroad," said Zhong Li, a lawyer at Beijing Maxpro Law Firm.

Professor Huang Zongliang of Peking University has recently expressed that an effective way to curb corruption was to create a personal assets reporting system for officials.

Professor Gong Weibin with the Chinese Academy of Governance, proposed that officials whose family lived overseas should report the reasons why they went overseas, their financial sources and places where their family members live or work, so as to better protect national interests and prevent officials from corruption.

A communique, issued by the fifth plenary session of the 17th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China in January, stipulated that officials should report their properties and investments as well as employment of their spouse and children, and authorities should monitor officials who had family members living overseas.


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