Mainland social media commentators and residents complain that senior officials are escaping responsibility for a poultry plant fire that killed 121 people in Jilin province a month ago.
So far, only 11 junior officials have been detained for dereliction of duty, which contributed to the deaths in the fire.
A Supreme People's Procuratorate inquiry showed that the officials, who include the Mishazi township fire chief, are being held responsible for the blaze, Xinhua reported.
It also said some of the officials, including two firemen, falsified information to hide the fact that "proper fire safety equipment was not in place" at the Jilin Baoyuanfeng poultry processing plant on June 3.
The detentions have raised public concern, since the authorities have not indicated if higher-level officials would be held accountable.
"These small potatoes are just scapegoats," read one post on Sina Weibo, China's popular microblogging service. "The accident should not have happened and could have been completely avoided if the officials put more effort in their work."
A Jilin native said he was expecting more people to be punished after the lengthy investigation, but admitted lenience for higher officials reflected the country's political nature.
"The senior officials are all stand unaffected like many other cases that I know," he said. "That's why the Chinese people have been suffering from endless accidents."
Jilin's governor Bayanqolu made a public apology after the deadly accident, and Jiang Zhiying, the mayor of the provincial capital Changchun , has released a self-criticism, pledging not to ignore his mistakes and skirt problems. But neither have received official punishment yet.
The Jilin propaganda department decline to comment. But a local propaganda official said the State Council team investigating the matter was still in the region, suggesting punishment might be made only based on the preliminary inquiry.
Communist Party elites frequently have been immune to criticism and punishment.