China to audit military officials in move to fight graft: Xinhua

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 25, 2013 1:39 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese military officials will face audits before they can retire or get promotions, state media reported on Tuesday, although a lack of transparency could limit the effectiveness of the latest measure against corruption.

The audit will encompass officials' "real estate property, their use of power, official cars and service personnel", the Xinhua news agency said, citing a guideline issued by the Central Military Commission, China's military policy maker.

The guideline is aimed at improving the "work style" of military officials and fighting graft, Xinhua said.

President Xi Jinping has called corruption a threat to the Communist Party's very survival, and vowed to go after powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".

Xi is also chairman of the Central Military Commission and the country's top military official.

Military officers who stand to be promoted to regimental commander-level posts and above, as well as those who plan to take up civilian posts or retire, will have to submit to an audit, Xinhua said.

Roderic Broadhurst, a professor of criminology at Australian National University who studies corruption in China, said he was sceptical about the plan, particularly if the audits were not made public.

"The absence of transparency will be a major limitation, as it is in all other aspects of oversight of guardians," he said.

Broadhurst also said limiting the audits to the rank of regimental commanders and above could mean that senior officers just get their subordinates to carry out illicit activities.

China intensified a crackdown on rampant corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People's Liberation Army from engaging in business. But graft has intensified in recent years due to a lack of transparency and checks and balances.

The military began replacing licence plates on its cars and trucks in April to crack down on drivers taking advantage of military plates to run red lights, drive aggressively and fill up on free fuel.

Military plates enable drivers to avoid road tolls and parking fees and are often handed out to associates as perks or favours.

(Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan and Michael Martina; Editing by Ron Popeski and Robert Birsel)