Over 200 village officials from China’s Tianhe district in Guangzhou surrendered their passports to authorities as part of a government policy to prevent corrupt officials from fleeing overseas, according to local media reports Wednesday.
Mo Tao, director of the publicity and education department of Tianhe’s local disciplinary group, told the Global Times that 223 officials from 25 villages had surrendered their passports and exit permits to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to officials from the Communist Party of China.
"With the growth in urbanization and renovation of urban villages, village officials are beginning to control large amounts of rural capital, property and land," he said, according to the Global Times. "This policy would help monitor their whereabouts and prevent corrupt officials from fleeing overseas.” He added that the total value of rural capital and resources in Tianhe was over $3 billion.
“Is it a business or personal trip? Who will you visit, relatives or friends? Who will receive you, which hotel will you stay in, what is your schedule?… An application with detailed questions should be submitted before leaving the country," Su Zhisheng, a local Party chief, told the Guangzhou Daily.
The move comes as part of a massive crackdown on corruption and graft in China, spearheaded by President Xi Jinping, that has netted over 150 officials across 32 countries in 2015 alone. Gao Feng, the political commissar of the Public Security Ministry's economic crimes bureau, said that a total of 100,000 economic crime cases, which were collectively worth almost $31 billion, were handled so far this year.
The purge has targeted top-level party officials, locally known as “tigers,” as well as smaller regional party officials known as “flies.” The sweep has netted senior party officials, including former Chinese security chief Zhou Yongkang, whose spectacular fall and arrest in 2014 was the most public example that Xi’s crackdown has made.