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China has executed a former vice-governor of the central province of Jiangxi for taking more than $950,000 in bribes, the official Xinhua news agency reported today.

Hu Changqing is the highest Chinese official to be executed for corruption in five decades, and his execution was apparently timed to back up a pledge this week by Premier Zhu Rongji to step up a nationwide crackdown on corruption.

Mr. Hu was executed in the Jiangxi capital, Nanchang, Xinhua reported.

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The execution was carried out as the annual session of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, is in progress. It was seen as a calculated warning to officials that Beijing is adamant corruption will be eliminated.

Mr. Hu was the latest victim of a wide campaign that has unearthed a series of huge scandals in recent months reaching into the heart of government. His death sentence was upheld yesterday by the Supreme People's Court, Xinhua said.

Mr. Hu was sentenced on Feb. 15 for extorting 5.4-million yuan, the equivalent of $950,000, and receiving goods worth 1.6-million yuan.

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