China kicks out 160,000 fake government staff: Report

BEIJING (AFP) - China has taken 160,000 "phantom" government staff off its official payroll who were receiving salaries despite not doing any work, state-media reported on Monday.

A total of 162,629 officials who were taking government wages without working have been removed in a nationwide campaign over the last year, the People's Daily newspaper said.

The province of Hebei in northern China saw the largest number of such officials, according to the paper, with nearly 56,000 identified.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a high-profile campaign against rampant corruption and misuse of government funds, in the face of widespread public anger.

Critics say the campaign has been hampered by a lack of fundamental reforms, such as the creation of an independent legal system.

"The problem of government staff receiving salaries without working has been one of the problems most keenly reported by cadres," the People's Daily said.

China's official Xinhua news agency called the sacked workers "phantom officials".

So far no such "phantom officials" have been found in the commercial hub of Shanghai or in Tibet, the People's Daily added.

The officials involved would be punished, it said, without giving details.

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