China jails former top provincial official for life over bribes

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Friday jailed for life a former vice governor of the northeastern province of Jilin and former banker for taking more than $3 million in bribes, in the government's latest move to crack down on deep-rooted corruption.

Tian Xueren was expelled from the ruling Communist Party in July of last year and went on trial last month in Beijing, accused of receiving more than 19 million yuan in bribes, state media have said.

"As an official of the state, Tian Xueren used his position to seek gains for others, and used the power of his position ... to illegally collect money and gifts from others," the First Intermediate Court of Beijing said on its microblog.

"This behaviour constitutes the crime of taking bribes."

Between 1995 and 2001, Tian helped companies and officials to get contracts, loans and promotions, while also serving as chairman of the state-run Bank of Jilin, the court added.

Tian cooperated in the investigation, providing information about bribes authorities had not been aware of, and had a "good attitude" towards admitting his guilt, the court said.

President Xi Jinping, who took office in March, has called corruption a threat to the ruling Communist Party's survival and vowed to go after powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".

But his crackdown has only netted a handful of senior officials, among them former executives of oil giant PetroChina.

The most high-profile recent case was the conviction of Bo Xilai, once a rising star in China's leadership, who was jailed for life in September after a murder scandal involving his wife, Gu Kailai, that shook the party.

But the government has shown no sign of considering reforms such as setting up an anti-graft body independent of the party that could more effectively tackle the problem.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)