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China to Intensify Crackdown on Crime

China's top law enforcement officials are promising there will be no let up in the get tough on crime policy - in which millions of people had been jailed in the past five years. China's chief judge and prosecutor addressed the annual legislative session of the National People's Congress.

China's top justice officials say they have intensified the crackdown on crime in the past five years and the top targets are corrupt government officials and those who jeopardize state security.

Courts convicted more than three-million people for all types of crime over the past five years. About quarter of those were handed sentences ranging from five years in jail to death.

Giving his work report Tuesday to the National People's Congress, China's top prosecutor Han Zhubin said the government is taking subversion more seriously. He vowed to keep vigorously pursuing terrorists, separatists and evil cults. He says the courts prosecuted more than 3,500 people for subversive activities over the past five years. They include members of the banned meditation group the Falun Gong, ethnic separatist groups, religious extremist forces, and terrorist organizations.

Mr. Han gave no figures on the sentences handed down, but charges of endangering state security carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. China is very secretive about death penalty statistics, but China is believed to execute more people in a year than the rest of the world combined.

Human rights organizations accuse China of misusing subversion charges by applying them to any form of dissent from the Communist Party line. But the government is not sparing Communist Party officials either.

Police investigated almost 13,000 government officials at the county level and above for corruption over the past five years. About half of those involved embezzlement or abuse of more than $120,000 in public funds.

China's Supreme Court chief, Xiao Yang, says prosecutions of more senior officials are up about 65 percent. Mr. Xiao says the courts found more than 2,600 public servants ranked county head or higher guilty of embezzlement or accepting bribes between 1998 and 2002.

More than 83,000 people total have been convicted of economic crimes in the past five years.

China's leaders are anxious to show they are combating official corruption - which is believed to have siphoned off tens of billions of dollars in public funds and eroded public confidence in the government.