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Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 09:33 UK

China admits mismanaged funds

Chinese Yuan banknotes. File photo
Chinese officials admit that corruption is a huge problem

China's government departments misused, embezzled or mismanaged more than 46bn yuan ($6.7bn) in 2007, the state auditor has said in an annual report.

China's national audit office said offences included using disaster relief funds to build government offices.

Auditor General Liu Jiayi said that 14 central government officials had been detained and nearly 200 other people had been punished.

Beijing authorities admit that fighting corruption is one of their key tasks.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has repeatedly warned that endemic corruption threatens the Communist Party's grip on power.

'Irregularities'

Every year, China's auditor-general gives the public a glimpse of how widespread government corruption is in this vast nation.

In this latest report to parliament, Mr Liu said an audit of more than 50 government departments and their subsidiaries had discovered that 4.5bn yuan ($660m) had been misused or embezzled in 2007.

He said the offences included diverting public funds to speculate in stocks and using disaster relief money to build government offices.

The report also found "managerial irregularities" in the use of another 41.7bn yuan ($6bn) of public money.

It said the country's education and commerce ministries, along with the statistics and tax offices, were among the major offenders.

Despite admitting that tackling corruption is a top priority, China's rulers have a poor track record, correspondents say.

Previous crackdowns have failed, and critics believe that without an enquiring free press and an independent judiciary, corruption in China will continue to spread.




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