Naked Official 裸体做官

Emerging in the 2000s as a term preferred by internet users to refer to corrupt officials who had already located their family members overseas, “naked official” began entering the more formal media discourse of anti-corruption in 2010. On February 22, 2010, the Ministry of Supervision issued a document called “Highlights of the Work of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau in 2010” (国家预防腐败局2010年工作要点), the first government document to make supervision of so-called “naked officials” a priority.

On March 5, 2011, Ma Ma (马馼), deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said China would begin a registry for “naked officials” that year. In a media interview in 2016, Ma stressed that, “I personally believe that under reform and opening officials and citizens are the same, and sending sons and daughters overseas should not be a special right officials have.” Asked to estimate how many “naked officials” there were in China, Ma said: “I’m afraid we can’t arrive at these numbers right now.”

In 2017, the profile of the term “naked official” was further raised as it appeared in the Chinese TV drama “In the Name of the People” (人民的名义), a series based on the online novel written by Zhou Meisen (周梅森) that tells the story of a prosecutor who works to uncover corruption in a fictional Chinese city.

David Bandurski

Now director of the CMP, leading the project’s research and partnerships, David joined the team in 2004 after completing his master’s degree at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He is currently an honorary lecturer at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre. He is the author of Dragons in Diamond Village (Penguin/Melville House), a book of reportage about urbanization and social activism in China, and co-editor of Investigative Journalism in China (HKU Press).