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DATE=3/10/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CHINA-CORRUPTION (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-260052 BYLINE=STEPHANIE MANN DATELINE=BEIJING INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: China's top legal officials have pledged to strengthen efforts to crack down on corruption. VOA Correspondent Stephanie Mann reports from Beijing, the nation's highest judge and top prosecutor told the annual session of China's legislature that lawbreakers will be punished -- no matter who they are. TEXT: The President of China's Supreme People's Court Xiao Yang says more than 15-thousand-700 people were sentenced last year for corruption-related crimes. These included crimes of graft, bribery, and misappropriation of public funds. In his report to the National People's Congress, Mr. Xiao said among the people receiving sentences were two officials at the ministerial level. Mr. Xiao was interrupted by applause eight times during his speech, mostly during his remarks on the problem of corruption. He singled out the recent case of Hu Changqing, the former deputy governor of Jiangxi province, who was executed this week for amassing a fortune through illegal bribes. Mr. Xiao said the Supreme People's Court will punish severely and without mercy anyone who commits economic crimes. China's top prosecutor, Procurator-General Han Zhubin, also addressed the Congress, and said the anti- corruption campaign will intensify. He said it will focus on cases involving high-level officials and large sums of money. Whoever is involved in bribe- taking and smuggling -- Mr. Han said -- will be brought to justice, with no exceptions. The problem of corruption has spread dramatically as China has implemented reforms and moved toward a market economy. Corruption has been a constant theme in the speeches and discussions at the current session of the National People's Congress. One of the biggest corruption cases has not been discussed openly, however. That involves billions of dollars in fuel oil and other products smuggled through the southeastern port of Xiamen. The case reportedly involves figures close to some of China's top leaders. (SIGNED) NEB/SMN/FC/PLM 10-Mar-2000 06:13 AM EDT (10-Mar-2000 1113 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .