A new audit report says China's local government debt has soared 70 percent over the past three years and warns local leaders to take steps to control the rapid increase.

The report Monday follows warnings rising debt could endanger China's economic growth. Communist Party leaders have pledged to make getting debts under control an official priority.

The National Audit Office reports local governments owe directly or have guaranteed 17.7 trillion yuan ($2.9 trillion) as of June. That's up from Y10.7 trillion ($1.7 trillion) at the end of 2010.

The audit office warns debt still is "rising relatively fast." It says local leaders need to tighten control over borrowing and create an "emergency response mechanism" for their stock of debt.