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Chinese official sentenced to death with two-year reprieve

Chinese official sentenced to death with two-year reprieve
A senior Chinese official was given a suspended death sentence on Friday, after pleading guilty in May to charges of corruption. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

July 31 (UPI) -- A senior Chinese Communist Party official charged with taking bribes worth more than $100 million was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve.

Zhao Zhengyong, 69, former chief of the Shaanxi Provincial Committee of the Communist Party, used his position to amass $103 million in exchange for building contracts and other favors during the construction of an illegal resort in the Qinling Mountains, Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

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Zhao was described in a party publication as a "shameless two-faced person" before the sentence was passed at First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin Municipality Friday, Chinese news service Caixin Global reported.

Zhao, a former senior national legislator, was a leading Communist Party official in Shaanxi Province from 2003 to 2018.

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According to the Tianjin court, Zhao has said he would not appeal the decision. Zhao will not be executed but imprisoned for life if he does not commit further violations of the law in two years.

Zhao's case is making headlines a year after Xing Yun, a former senior legislator of northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, was sentenced to death for accepting money and valuables worth nearly $64 million. Xing also received a commuted sentence of life imprisonment.

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Zhao is to have all property confiscated by the state. Earlier in May, he pleaded guilty to going ahead with construction in the Qinling Mountains, which was declared a nature reserve six times since May 2014 by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

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Xi launched an anti-corruption campaign at the beginning of his term of office, but critics of the policy, including former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, have said Xi used the campaign to strengthen his grip on power, according to Taiwan News.

Lee, known as the father of Taiwan's democracy, died Thursday at age 97.

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