China's high-profile anti-graft campaign brought down a series of high ranking officials in 2006, among whom nine were sentenced by courts, Chief Justice Xiao Yang said Tuesday.
A total of 825 convicted government officials above the county level were sentenced by courts in 2006, Xiao, president of China's Supreme People's Court (SPC), said in a work report to the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's parliament.
"Of the convicted, nine were provincial- or ministeiral-level officials and 92 were at the prefecture level," he said.
One of the most notorious convicted officials in 2006 was Ding Xinfa, a former provincial procurator-general of eastern Jiangxi Province, who was sentenced to 17 years for bribery and embezzlement.
The disgraced list also included Li Dachang, former vice governor of southwest Sichuan Province, who was sentenced to seven- years in prison for power abuse.
"The number of convicted officials at provincial- or ministerial-level last year marked an obvious rise compared with that in 2005, which shows that China is indeed stepping up its anti-graft efforts," Lee Linseng, an NPC deputy from Hong Kong, told Xinhua.
Chinese courts heard 23,733 cases of embezzlement, bribery and dereliction of duty in 2006, among which 8,310 were bribery cases involving government employees, according to Xiao's report.
Xiao said it is an important task of the courts to boost the country's anti-graft drive. "China's courts will continue to seriously punish crimes of corruption, dereliction of duty and commercial bribery according to law," he said.
In a separate report delivered to nearly 3,000 lawmakers, top prosecutor Jia Chunwang said enhancing crackdown on job-related crimes was one of the priorities of the country's procuratorial bodies in 2006.
The procuratorial organs placed 33,668 cases on file for investigation for corruption, bribery and other job-related crimes in 2006, involving 40,041 people, and among them, 29,966 were prosecuted, said Jia, procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP).
He said 2,736 government employees above the county level were put under procuratorial investigations for job-related crimes last year, among whom 202 were at the prefecture level and six were at the provincial- and ministerial-level.
Corruption and commercial bribery have become a prominent social problem in China, arousing public anger. Fighting against corruption and building a clean government is seen as an urgent issue concerning the "life and death" of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC has highlighted "government officials' collusion with business people" in its battle against corruption.
Jia said the procuratorial departments have actively joined in the country's drive in curbing commercial bribery.
He said the SPP played a major role in the investigation into the graft cases of some State Food and Drug Administration officials in 2006. The investigation led to the downfall of the drug watchdog's former head Zheng Xiaoyu.
Zheng, who has been expelled from the CPC and given administrative penalty, was found taking advantage of the administration's drug approval power to obtain bribes and seek illegal profits for some drug companies, disregarding his duty to supervise the drug market.
"The investigation and punishment to the key commercial bribery cases, which involved broad regions, large numbers of people and an enormous sum of money, has greatly stricken such violations and greatly curbed the tendency of commercial bribery," Jia said.
A total of 9,582 commercial bribery cases involving government employees were investigated in 2006, involving more than 1.5 billion yuan, according to Jia's report.
"The anti-graft storm sends a very clear message that China is not going to relax its combat against official corruption," Fu Yongli, an NPC deputy from southwest China's Sichuan Province told Xinhua.