Chinese State Media Take Aim at Officials Who Try to ‘Jump Ship’ and Flee China

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By Winnie Han and Eva Fu
Epoch Times Staff

Eight years ago, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping criticized party officials for letting their confidence waver and sending their families and money abroad. These people were trying to “leave themselves a way out and prepared to ‘jump ship’ anytime.”

Study Times, a newspaper run by the CCP’s Central Party School for training Chinese officials, recently reiterated these words, saying some party officials were being physically in China, but mentally abroad.

“This shows a loss of ideal and a lack of confidence toward the Party and the nation,” the article said, adding that such officials are more prone to “losing their direction” and “walking further away on the wrong path.”

Such officials have become known as “naked officials,” a figurative term suggesting that they are not leaving anything but themselves back home.

Honesty Outlook, a state-run anti-corruption monthly magazine in Sichuan Province, in 2016 described the exit strategies used by corrupt CCP officials as a “cicada sloughing off its shell.” If for any reason they need to exit China quickly, they secretly secure living arrangements abroad, including buying houses in family members’ names and having them settle there, then the official later escapes.

While naked officials might not be corrupt initially, they have a higher tendency to become so, the Study Times article stated, naming three such officials to illustrate the point.

Cao Jianliao, the former vice mayor of Guangzhou city, used his position to collect more than 70 million yuan (around $11 million) in bribes and to obtain Hong Kong and Macau resident cards for himself and his family.

Wen Min, former director of the National Defense Science and Industry Office in Mongolia, managed to purchase a property for his daughter in Melbourne, Australia, after transferring funds through an underground money market. He had 36 properties in various parts of China, according to Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the top Chinese anti-graft agency that published findings of its investigation into Wen last July.

The third, Zhang Shuguang, is the former director of the Transportation Bureau under China’s Ministry of Railways. He arranged to have his wife and children immigrated overseas.

All three are now charged with corruption, serving sentences from 18 years to life imprisonment.

Regular self-disclosure, higher public scrutiny, and international cooperation are necessary to discourage these officials from engaging in acts of corruption, the article said.

Officials must “place themselves in the ‘cage’ of the system from beginning to end,” the article said as it called for a “zero tolerance” attitude toward corruption fugitives.

The regime’s internal survey in 2012 found at least 85 percent of officials within the CCP’s top management to have exit strategies prepared for their families and finances, Xin Ziling, a retired Chinese defense official, told The Epoch Times in a previous interview.

China had about 7 million civil servants as of 2015, according to data released by China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in 2016. The ministry has not published newer data since.

It’s unclear how many “naked officials” are among them. In 2014, Chinese authorities disciplined more than 3,200 naked officials. Around 1,000 of them got demoted for failing to bring their relatives living abroad back home.

that on the eve of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CCP Central Committee, the Study Times had sharply criticized “naked officials” for their questionable behaviors. Since this session was a precursor to identifying top-level personnel for the 20th National Congress, the article prompted an investigation into whether some officials should be replaced or not promoted.

“The Party media have revealed that CCP officials have no confidence in the Party, and Xi knows they could flee at any time. It reveals a general belief in the Chinese officialdom that the Party is nearing its end,” Li Yanming, a U.S.-based expert on Chinese current affairs, told The Epoch Times.

He noted that more than 380 million Chinese people have quit Party-affiliated organizations using pseudonyms, including some CCP officials.

“It’s apparent that the CCP has become desperate,” he said.

Xi is attempting to correct its members’ wayward thinking and unify them before next year’s 20th National Congress, where he seeks to secure a third five-year term, Lan Shu, a Chinese current affairs commentator, told The Epoch Times.

Zhao Yuanming, a senior legal expert who formerly lectured at the Beijing-based People’s Public Security University, a state-run higher institution training China’s elite police officers, found Xi’s emphasis on confidence in the Party telling.

“A saying among commoners goes that if you gun down all these officials one by one, someone would have been wronged, but if you were to gun down every other one, there would be those that slipped through the net,” he told The Epoch Times.  “This is the degree of corruption inside the Chinese regime.”

Joyce Liang contributed to this report.

Eva Fu

Eva Fu
China Reporter
Eva Fu is a New York-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on U.S.-China relations, religious freedom, and human rights.

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