China's Guangdong province removes over 850 'naked officials' from their posts

SHANGHAI Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:33am EDT

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - More than 850 government workers in China's southern province of Guangdong have been forced out of their jobs as part of an anti-crackdown on officials whose spouses and children have emigrated abroad.

An investigation by the provincial government identified 2,190 "naked officials" and 866 of them have been removed from their posts, according to a report posted on the Guangdong government's official news portal on Friday and carried in local media on Saturday.

State media have reported that so-called naked officials will not be considered for promotion, as they are viewed as flight risks whose ability to escape overseas could make them more inclined to engage in acts of corruption.

Xinhua said naked officials were a serious problem in Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong. Guangdong province has traditionally seen high levels of emigration with communities of people originally from it scattered throughout Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia and North America.

Many officials have been taking advantage of a Hong Kong investment scheme to squirrel away more than $1 million each, which includes buying "residency" in faraway African nations, as the scheme is not open to mainland Chinese residents.

President Xi Jinping last year launched a crackdown on pervasive corruption over concern about public resentment towards China's stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party. But the drive is also seen as a tool to remove Xi's opponents and replace them with his allies.

(Reporting by Kazunori Takada; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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