China orders audit of incomes of all military personnel

In an unprecedented move, China has ordered an audit of income and expenses of all levels of the 2.3 million strong armed forces, in the wake of a series of corruption scandals within the military involving several top Generals and officers.

PTI| Updated: Feb 12, 2015, 18:49 PM IST

Beijing: In an unprecedented move, China has ordered an audit of income and expenses of all levels of the 2.3 million strong armed forces, in the wake of a series of corruption scandals within the military involving several top Generals and officers.

The military is set to begin a one-year long audit covering all levels of the armed forces as the central government continues its efforts to crack down on corruption within the military, state-run Global Times reported today.

The Central Military Commission (CMC), chaired by President Xi Jinping, the highest body of the armed forces, has recently announced its plan to conduct an investigation of all military personnel's income and expenses during 2013 and 2014, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily, the official organ of the military, reported.

The audit of the world's largest standing army came amid the biggest anti-graft crackdown in which more than 200 senior PLA officers have been reprimanded, demoted or removed from their posts for problems exposed by military auditors.

Last year, 15 high-ranking officers including Xu Caihou, former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, and Gu Junshan, former deputy head of the PLA General Logistics Department, were placed under probe on suspicion of graft.

The crackdown within the military was also aimed at weeding out the officers loyal to the disgraced Communist Party leaders, Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai.

While Zhou is facing investigations, Bo was sentenced to life in 2013 for various charges including corruption and abuse of power.

Recent official reports said a total of 4,024 officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel or above, including 82 generals, have been the subject of scrutiny by PLA auditors since January 2013. Of these, 21 were removed from their posts, 144 were demoted and 77 reprimanded and asked to correct the problems that were discovered.

Another 61 officers were given poor evaluations because their units were found to have many financial problems.

Also more than 820 such problems at 180 military units were uncovered by auditors, who focused on infrastructure construction projects and the development of major weapons, the PLA Daily reported January 30.

Commenting on the new audit rules, Zhao Keshi, head of the PLA's General Logistics Department and leader of the audit group, said during the group's first meeting yesterday that Xi has attached great importance to the audit, which will help improve the army's efficiency in utilising financial resources.

China's annual military spending is over USD 132 billion.

The investigation, which will cover all departments and ranks within the army, will be far-reaching and may involve conflicts of interest, Zhao said.

The financial investigation will look into all cash flows, receipts and expenses that exceeded original budgets to uncover cases of embezzlement or so-called "little coffers," hidden caches of cash that corrupt personnel have siphoned from public funds, it said.

The CMC requires the army to make the investigation their top priority, and to regularly review its progress.

The PLA daily said in a commentary on Tuesday that the army has achieved some success in the fight against military corruption after setting up a series of rules to curb the misuse of expenses and improve financial efficiency.

In an earlier speech, President Xi spoke about the importance of eliminating corruption among high-ranking military officers.

He said that it is forbidden for such officers to receive income other than their salaries, after the PLA announced investigations targeting 16 senior military officials.