China shuts the ‘revolving door’

By on 22/06/2017 | Updated on 24/09/2020
The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where the amended Administrative Supervision Law will be presented to the National People's Congress at the end of the year (Image courtesy: Shizhao).

China has introduced tough new rules on civil servants who leave their jobs for the private sector as part of a nationwide crackdown on corruption.

Officials in leadership positions or at the county level and above will no longer be allowed to take jobs in profit-making organisations within the same region for three years after they resign, according to the state news agency. The new rules are designed to close the ‘revolving door’ between government and business, which is seen in many countries as undermining good public governance.

Such officials are also now barred from engaging in profitable activities that are related to their government job, while those at lower levels face the same restrictions for two years after resigning, Xinhua reported.

The new regulations, which were jointly announced by the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee and various government departments on 26 May, require departing civil servants to attend a pre-departure briefing and submit a statement on their future employment plans.

The officials must also pledge to submit follow-up statements about their work throughout the limitation period, when they will be monitored by the authorities, according to The People’s Daily, the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party. Those who breach the regulations will be punished.

Civil service jobs in China are known as the “golden rice bowl” due to their stable pay and generous benefits. Last year, nearly 1.5 million people sat the five-hour civil service entrance exam, the Guokao, in pursuit of 27,000 jobs.

Professor Wang Yukai, of the Chinese Academy of Governance, said previous corruption cases showed that some civil servants had continued to work in related areas after quitting their government jobs, the state-run China News Service reported.

“They could then continue to wield their power for profit,” he said. “This is corruption in another form and it affects fair competition in the market.”

The move comes as China prepares to pass a national supervision law designed to consolidate existing corruption control authorities as part of President Xi Jinping’s “zero tolerance” policy on corruption.

The country’s Administrative Supervision Law is currently being amended and draft national legislation will be presented to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress before the end of the year, NPC spokeswoman Fu Ying said in March, as reported by the state-run China Daily newspaper.

Pilot programmes were launched last year in Shanxi and Zhejiang provinces and Beijing to form supervisory commissions at provincial or municipal level through mergers of smaller corruption control authorities, after the NPC Standing Committee gave the go-ahead for the move.

“The pilot practice will offer valuable experience for the future expansion of the new supervision system,” Fu said.

At the end of 2015, China had 7.17 million civil servants, with an annual resignation rate of 0.2 per cent, according to Xinhua. Last year, 48 high-ranking officials stood trial for corruption and investigations were opened into 21 others, China Daily reported.

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See also:

Indian anti-corruption agency investigates its former boss

Populism enables ‘endemic corruption’, report warns

India moves to protect retired officials from corruption probes

New transparency rules to help tackle corruption


About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist based in London. She worked on daily newspapers for more than 16 years as an education correspondent, section editor and general news reporter. She was Education Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.

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