Word of the Week: Naked Official

Editor’s Note: The  comes from China Digital Space’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and frequently encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.

If you are interested in participating in this project by submitting and/or translating terms, please contact the CDT editors at CDT [at] chinadigitaltimes [dot] net.

裸体做官 (luǒ tǐ zuò guān): naked official

A naked official (often abbreviated 裸官 luǒ guān) is a government official whose family members (except himself) reside overseas.  This name suggests that the official  funnels illegally obtained public funds to his overseas family members; thus, the official appears naked (without assets) but is really preparing a nest egg outside of China.

Between 1978 and 2003, the Ministry of Commerce estimates that about 4,000 corrupt officials left China, taking with them at least USD$50 billion.

Former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai is perhaps China’s most notorious naked official. Although his income was just US$1600 per month, he managed to send his son Guagua to an elite British boarding school, then Oxford and Harvard. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, is suspected of murdering family friend Neil Heywood after he demanded a larger cut of an illegal overseas money transfer.

Read about more notable cases in English and Chinese.