This material belongs to: The Times.
A former deputy mayor of a Chinese city has become the first official to be sentenced to death since President Xi came to power in November 2012 and vowed to get tough on corruption.
A Chinese court decided that the crimes of Zhang Zhongsheng, who was accused of taking £120 million in bribes, were particularly grave.
It was told that Zhang, 65, was known as the local godfather in the central coal mining city of Luliang, home to 3.8 million people, and “paid no heed to law and was extremely greedy”.
Beijing is sending a signal that there is no limit to the punishment corrupt officials can expect. The last official to be executed was Xu Maiyong, 42, a deputy mayor in the eastern city of Hangzhou, in 2011. He was charged with taking £20 million in bribes.
Under Mr Xi’s rule until now death sentences had been commuted to life imprisonment.
China has amended laws so that crimes such as organising prostitution, illegal fundraising and currency counterfeiting are no longer punishable by death. However, Beijing reserves the right to impose the death sentence for corruption in the worst cases, in part to quell public anger. A court said that Zhang had severely hindered local economic development and caused huge damage to the country and the people.