A leading human rights group says China increased the rate of executions in the days leading up to the Lunar New Year holiday.

Amnesty International says it monitored reports of 200 executions in China in the two week period leading up to the holiday, which began on Wednesday. The London-based group also notes that 650 executions were reported carried out in December and January.

Figures compiled each year by Amnesty show that China is the world's leader in executions. China executes people for everything from murder and rape to corruption and tax evasion.

Amnesty has urged Beijing to reduce the use of the death penalty, saying Chinese prisoners have limited access to attorneys and that many confessions are obtained through torture.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.