China’s “naked officials” with family abroad won’t be getting a promotion this year

Mao would have never approved.
Mao would have never approved.
Image: Reuters/Darley Shen
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The days of “naked officials” climbing the career ladder in China are over. No, not the many disgraced politicians and bureaucrats caught in sex scandals, but the officials with spouses and children overseas, posing a risk they might flee the country or sneak out illicit cash. These so-called luo guan are no longer eligible for promotion, according to new regulations (link in Chinese) issued by the Communist Party as part of its ongoing corruption crackdown.

Naked officials have been a feature of the communist party since as far back as China’s reform and opening period in the 1980s. Today, an estimated 1.18 million (link in Chinese) officials have immediate family abroad—including the country’s most powerful man, president Xi Jinping, whose daughter attends Harvard under a pseudonym. However, the new rules only apply to “those whose spouses have migrated abroad, or, if there is no spouse, those whose children have moved abroad.”

“Who can really say exactly which country it is they serve?” anti-corruption boss Wang Qishan said of naked officials last year (paywall). “As long as these people are in positions of power, they are a huge loss and potential danger to our nation, state and the Party’s authority.”

The new regulations also outlined other undesirable traits among the country’s current crop of cadres, warning against “princelings,” as children of high-level officials are known, civil servants without local-level experience, those who have committed fraud, officials of “poor moral character,” and those who are just lazy.

Jennifer Chiu contributed additional reporting.