The country's top judicial bodies have redefined the scope of bribery in a stepped-up crackdown on increasing economic crimes.
The revision is included in a judicial interpretation by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) and the Supreme People's Procuratorate released on Tuesday that covers 22 new crime categories - 14 new and eight revisions.
It is in accordance with two amendments to the Chinese Criminal Law issued in November 2005 and June 2006.
Previously, the Criminal Law stipulated that bribery crimes were limited to government officials or employees of State or private companies.
However, the incidence of bribery in other areas has been getting worse in recent years, Ni Shouming, spokesman for the highest court, said.
Courts and prosecutors often faced a dilemma in handling cases that involve people such as a private school principal taking bribes for enrolment, a sports club manager getting money from bidders for a construction project or a judge at an art contest favoring certain contestants who have greased his palms.
For example, in 2002, eight soccer referees were accused of taking various amounts of money to fix matches - leading to a national outcry - but only one was taken to court and found guilty.
Qu Xinjiu, a professor in criminal law at the Chinese University of Politics and Law, said: "The bribery revision has broadened the scope of such crimes, and will help deter those in important positions from misusing their authority."
The number of commercial bribery cases dealt with by Chinese courts rose to 4,406 in the first seven months, 8.2 percent more than the same period of last year, the SPC said in September. Nearly 95 percent of the total involved civil servants.
Among the new categories of crime are: Endangering public safety, not reporting or falsely reporting accidents, filing for bankruptcy under false pretenses or organizing begging gangs using the handicapped or children.
The revised list deals mostly with financial and securities transactions.
(China Daily November 8, 2007)