China Orders Energy Officials to Surrender Passports in Graft Probe
By Gu Yongqiang
The entire management of China’s largest oil-and-gas producer has been ordered to surrender passports in a sweeping graft probe, but the move has already been depicted as ineffective.
Beijing-based newspaper Securities Daily reported on Tuesday that middle- and top-ranking managers at scandal-hit China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) were told to give up their travel documents as part of a widening corruption inquiry. Around 1,000 officials are affected.
However, insiders say any crooked official worth his salt would have multiple travel documents. “Chinese officials and party cadres usually have two different kinds of passports: an official passport and regular passports,” a government official based in Beijing told TIME on condition of anonymity. “Official passports are usually held by the divisions, while the regular passports are kept by officials themselves.”
Even if both kinds of passports are surrendered, getting hold of a false passport, or a passport obtained under an alias, doesn’t seem to be a problem for a determined apparatchik on the run.
A raft of corrupt officials have attempted to escape the Middle Kingdom using illicit travel documents over the years. Zhou Jinhuo, former director of the Industry and Commerce Bureau of east China’s Fujian province, fled to the U.S. in 2006 using a real passport but acquired under an alias. He was under investigation by anticorruption agencies at the time.
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