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In ancient eastern Asia, a government official whose primary duty was to scrutinize the conduct of officials and rulers. During the Qin (221–206 BC) and Han (206 BC–AD 220) dynasties, the censor's function was to criticize the emperor's acts, but in later periods the censorate was expanded and became an instrument for imperial control of the bureaucracy. Censors checked important documents, supervised construction projects, reviewed judicial proceedings, kept watch over state property, and looked for cases of subversion and corruption.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on censor, visit Britannica.com.