China expands corruption checks in military

Updated: 2007-01-30 10:41

BEIJING - China will expand anti-corruption audits of senior military officers as People's Liberation Army commanders seek to ensure the country's expanding military budget is spent as intended, state media reported.

At least 30 percent of officers at army, division and regiment levels would be audited in 2007 for possible financial misdeeds, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Monday.

The head of the PLA's logistics department, Liao Xilong, told a meeting of officers that the crackdown was meant to ensure that China's military budget is not squandered. Wayward officers would be harshly punished, he warned.

"We must comprehensively monitor funding meant to prepare for military struggle -- its direction and amount, implementation of plans, and the results," Liao said, according to Xinhua.

"Ensure that all aspects of battle preparedness development pass the tests of war and history."

Over the past year, President Hu Jintao has pursued a drive against corruption, purging errant and disloyal officials. His campaign has reached into the country's military, which has enjoyed rapidly rising budgets over the past decade.

In January, the PLA introduced new rules to regularise audits of officers; about 1,000 senior officers already had their accounts inspected in 2006, according to reports last year.

Last month, Hong Kong media reported that a Chinese vice-admiral was given a life sentence for embezzlement. He was accused of accepting bribes from contractors in exchange for building projects.

In recent years, the PLA - the world's largest force measured by personnel - has sought to raise efficiency by opening some procurement spending to commercial tenders. Beijing has said its defence budget in 2006 rose 14.7 percent to 283.8 billion yuan (US$36.5 billion).

No official Chinese military budget figure is available for 2007.

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