China's government removed tens of thousands of "phantom employees" from state payrolls amid a campaign by President Xi Jinping to crack down on corruption and eliminate waste.

A total of 162,629 employees who had continued to draw salaries after leaving their posts were cleared out of central and provincial governments, state-controlled financial companies and universities as of September 25, the official People's Daily reported on Monday. The country also disposed of 114,418 government vehicles, it said in a separate report.

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The moves build on Xi's broader anti-graft campaign to crack down on the abuse of power by officials after he became head of the Communist Party in November, 2012. Central government agencies cut their fleet by 37 per cent last year, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and Ministry of Supervision. Xi's government has also cut spending on business travel and entertainment.


"This would be an important step towards making China a fairer place rather than having people with power being able to take money out of the system and put in their own pockets," David Zweig, a professor of political science at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said by telephone.

The government removed over 55,000 workers in Hebei province who were getting paid even though they no longer hold positions, People's Daily reported. In the southwestern Sichuan province, more than 28,000 officials were paid even though they didn't work, and 15,000 were uncovered in Henan province, according to the report.

The missing employees are typically government officials' relatives or children, according to China National Radio.

Liu Tienan, the former deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, has been accused by prosecutors of securing a phantom job for his son in return for brokering deals and helping obtain approvals for projects.

His son was given a job at Guangzhou Automobile Group with a salary of 1.2 million yuan (US$195,000) from June 2007 to December 2012, even though he didn't work there, according to the official microblog of the Langfang City Intermediate People's Court, where Liu's trial took place last month.

Communist Party cadres and government officials ranked below vice minister have been given monthly allowances of 500 yuan to 1,300 yuan in lieu of government vehicles, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on July 16.

- Bloomberg