Moving the family abroad
Hedging their bets
Officials, looking for an exit strategy, send family and cash overseas
May 26th 2012 | BEIJING | from the print edition
THE phrase “naked official”, or luo guan, was coined in 2008 by a bureaucrat and blogger in Anhui province, Zhou Peng’an, to describe officials who have moved their family abroad, often taking assets with them. Once there, they are beyond the clutches of the Communist Party in case anything, such as a corruption investigation, should befall the official, who is left back at home alone (hence “naked”). Mr Zhou says the issue has created a crisis of trust within the party, as officials lecture subordinates on patriotism and incorruptibility, but send their own families abroad.
You do not have to be corrupt to be “naked”, however. Sending your family abroad is simply a state of maximum readiness. It does not suggest huge confidence in a stable Chinese future. Many wealthy businessmen have also been preparing exit strategies. One of the most common legitimate routes involves immigrant-investor programmes in America, Canada or Hong Kong, typically requiring an investment of up to $1m. Chinese nationals have rushed to apply for these. Three-quarters of applicants for America’s programme last year were Chinese.
The less well-heeled obtain passports from other countries—in the South Pacific, Africa or Latin America—at more affordable prices (as low as $20,000). Li Chengyan, director of the Centre for Anti-Corruption Studies at Peking University, says countries that do not have an extradition treaty with China are particularly popular among corrupt officials. One crooked former governor of Yunnan province was found to have five foreign passports. “No need to wait for a visa if they have to run,” says Mr Li.
Before China’s Transition, a Wave of Nationalism
By ANDREW JACOBS
Published: May 25, 2012
BEIJING — As an English-speaking talk show host on China Central Television, Yang Rui likes to think of himself as a bridge between East and West.
He has a soft spot for tweed newsboy caps and Sherlock Holmes-style pipes and takes pride in his communications degree from Cardiff University in Wales. He may exult inChina’s growing might, but made sure his son attended college in the United States. His program on the state-run CCTV, “Dialogue,” often includes both foreign and Chinese guests.
“I have to remind myself that I’m not representing myself,” he once remarked. “I’m representing the image of a country.”