Buoyed by the success of the anti-corruption drive, China will begin auditing medium-ranking officials from the beginning of next year.
"Heads of prefectures and prefecture-level departments will be subject to economic auditing from January 1 of 2005," said a spokesman with the Economic Responsibility Auditing Department of China's National Audit Office (CNAO).
In China, the administrative level proceeds from villages upward to towns, counties, prefectures and prefecture-level cities, provinces and province-level cities to the central government. So far, the audits have mainly been of heads of counties and officials of lower ranks.
In addition, China will audit military officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel or higher who are in charge of army finances, beginning next year, according to a regulation issued Wednesday by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). The work will be done by the military auditing system.
"Overall, the scope of auditing has been greatly expanded. Auditing medium-rank officials, in particular, will be very effective in curbing corruption at both the low and high levels," said Liu Suhua, a researcher with the Research Office of Politics and Law of the Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
Liu acknowledged the expansion would increase the costs, but is worthwhile because of the loopholes it will uncover.
A report on the auditing work in 2003, delivered by Auditor-general Li Jinhua to the National People's Congress in June, revealed misconduct in government departments and key state enterprises.
Among them, 41 departments appropriated 1.42 billion yuan (US$171.1 million) using the money to build homes and offices and increase subsidies to their staff.
A few officials responsible for the transgressions have been indicted, some of which have been sentenced to prison terms.
The CNAO spokesman said the auditing departments maintained close ties with prosecution and judicial departments. Law-breakers uncovered by the auditing departments would be immediately reported.
She said this cooperation would be further institutionalized and strengthened.
(Xinhua News Agency November 27, 2004)