According to China’s Law on the Administrative Punishment on Government Employees, resignation and retirement do not exempt officials from punishment. To prevent such cases, the CCDI issued a document in March 2022 proposing to clamp down on “revolving doors” and other corruption involving early resignation or retirement. Two months later, the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee released a document that barred retired or resigned officials from profiting from the influence of their former post.
The same year, Beijing municipal government launched a thorough investigation into such cases. Hangzhou government said it would work on a restriction list for retired and resigned officials to prevent them from using their power to illegally benefit businesses.
But all who spoke with NewsChina said there is still a long way to go.
“It is very hard to supervise retired and resigned officials, especially if they enter a family business or an enterprise run by former classmates, hometown friends or relatives,” a discipline supervision official in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, told NewsChina on condition of anonymity. “I think departments should set up an archive of officials for regular follow-ups and supervision,” he added.
Yang Shaohua, a professor at the China Executive Leadership Academy in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi Province, commented on the Hangzhou document: “Officials still maintain influence and power well after they resign, so we have to further detail regulations and set limits on their subsequent employment... [resigned or retired] officials should be barred from joining certain industries and enterprises,” he said.
The central government rolled out a document in 2013 that prevents officials from working with enterprises in or related to their former jurisdictions for at least three years after their retirement. After the three-year period, they must register with their former organizations before they begin such work.
There are similar rules in China’s Law of Government Employees, which took effect in April 2005. Based on the recent crackdown, however, it seems these measures were not implemented well.
“We have to stay vigilant against officials who become agents or representatives of powerful groups after they resign or retire. It’s a new and organized form of corruption that is harder to crack down on,” Mao told NewsChina.
Mao said supervision is key to preventing post-resignation corruption, suggesting increased audits of officials set to retire and their business dealings. He believes those who are already under investigation or stand accused should not be allowed to resign or retire before investigations conclude.
Mao proposed setting up a database that registers the work status, awards and punishments of serving officials to facilitate follow-up supervision after they quit.
China’s Law of Government Employees states that any official found to have illegally worked with a related enterprise following their resignation or retirement faces dismissal, while the enterprise that employs these officials face fines up to five times the amount they paid them.
Mao believes the punishment is not enough to deter potential violators, and neither the 2022 CPC Central Committee document nor the law has clearly detailed supervision measures. “We need to revise and improve our Law of Government Employees,” he said.