In order to avoid corrupt officials fleeing the country Beijing has recently tightened the restrictions on officials traveling abroad, requiring them to hand in their passports, according to state news media outlets.
The Beijing Municipal Organization Department recently published a new rule that division-level or higher-level officials are not allowed to travel abroad for personal reasons in normal conditions. In special situations, the officials may apply to higher level leaders for approval to travel, following strict procedures.
All leaders serving in significant positions in state organizations, such as managers in charge of human resources, in financial departments, with access to confidential files, and so on—must face a strict examination in order to get approval for going abroad.
The new rule also requires officials to return their passports to the human resource department to keep upon returning from other countries, the report says.
The Beijing Communist Party’s Municipal Organization Department has also strengthened the supervision system that monitors officials suspected of planning to flee. Once actions indicating an official may flee are detected, officials in the organization must report level by level up to the Central Organization Department within 48 hours.
The new restrictions follow a crackdown earlier this year on Chinese “naked officials” whose spouse and children have immigrated overseas (usually taking some of the official’s wealth with them). In January, the central authorities released a rule that says officials whose spouse and children have immigrated overseas won’t be considered for promotions.
The flight of corrupt officials has become an urgent issue in recent years. In 2013 762 officials were captured in flight, with over 10 billion yuan ($US1.6 billion) in illicit money and goods recovered, according to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
The overseas Chinese-language news website Boxun quoted officials at the Civil Aviation Administration that in 2012 over 350 officials who attempted to flee were captured at the Beijing airport customs, with over 300 billion yuan (US$4.9 billion) recovered from them.
In order to restrain and avoid corrupt officials fleeing China with capital, the Chinese Communist Party has begun inspecting naked officials in all provinces this year.
Only Guangdong Province has published the number of naked officials it has, 2190. Over 10 provinces have claimed that “the specific number of naked officials is not convenient to reveal.” Many other provinces have kept quiet over the issue.
Zhang Xixian, professor at the Central Party School, told Chinese media that the provincial authorities are likely staying silent because the number of naked officials is so high that the authorities worry about a negative political impact if it is revealed.