October 16, 2014 / 12:00 PM / in 3 years

China to strengthen auditing of military in battle on graft

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during a joint media briefing with Romania's President Traian Basescu (unseen) at Cotroceni presidential palace in Bucharest in this October 19, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel/Files

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will toughen audits of its military and target older officers to ensure that corrupt individuals are denied promotion and cannot get away with their crimes, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

President Xi Jinping has made rooting out deep-seated graft a key plank of his administration, and China’s armed forces, at 2.3 million strong the world’s largest, have been in the spotlight after several scandals.

In June, the ruling Communist Party announced it would court-martial Xu Caihou, one of its most senior former military officers, on charges of corruption.

Xu retired last year from the post of vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, which controls the armed forces, and is headed by Xi. In 2012, Xu retired from the Communist Party’s decision-making Politburo.

The new auditing rules are designed to “strengthen the ability to investigate, and banish, the phenomenon of corruption”, the Defense Ministry said on its website.

Officers with responsibility for funds will fall squarely within the scope of the audits, with particular attention paid to older officers, it added, to ensure they cannot simply leave and take along their ill-gotten gains.

The buying and selling of military positions has long been a problem for China’s armed forces. Officers who paid bribes to be promoted see corruption as a way to earn a return on the investment.

The ministry said it would not allow promotions or retirements without a prior audit, to make sure appointees do not bring any “sickness” to the job.

China stepped up a crackdown on rampant corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the PLA from business. But critics say a lack of checks and balances has allowed the military to engage in commercial activities in recent years.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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