Chinese official sentenced to death on graft charges: Xinhua

BEIJING Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:45am EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese municipal official was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for accepting more than $1 million in bribes, the official news agency reported on Thursday, highlighting the government's efforts to crackdown on graft.

Zhou Jianhua had chaired the standing committee of the People's Congress of Xinyu city in the southern province of Jiangxi, Xinhua reported, citing the Jiangxi Higher People's Court.

It said Zhou had accepted 10.2 million yuan ($1.6 million), tens of thousands of U.S. and Hong Kong dollars as well as three gold bars and objects worth 236,000 yuan ($38,991). A higher court is currently handling a retrial of the case, Xinhua added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made fighting pervasive graft a priority since taking office last March and has warned, like others before him, that corruption threatens the ruling Communist Party's very survival.

But the government's crackdown on activists calling for officials to disclose their wealth exposes Beijing's ambivalence in rooting out corruption as the leadership works to crush any challenge to its dominance.

China has waged a ten-month campaign against the "New Citizens' Movement", which advocates working within the system to bring about change, including pressing officials to disclose their assets. Its leading campaigner, Xu Zhiyong, went on trial this week in the country's most high-profile dissident case in years.

(Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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