Chinese officials found guilty of embezzling or accepting bribes of 3 million yuan (460,000 dollars) or more could receive the death sentence, a judicial ruling said Monday, as Beijing pursued a sweeping anti-corruption drive.
The harsher penalty will be reserved for "extremely serious case[s]" with "extremely vile impact," the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate said in a Monday ruling.
In cases where the death penalty is deemed too severe, convicts could receive a life sentence without possibility of commutation or parole, according to the document.
"The ruling follows a general principle of harsh punishment for those found guilty of embezzlement or bribery," Miao Youshui, a senior judge at the Supreme People's Court, told Xinhua news agency.
No corruption convicts have been executed so far during President Xi Jinping's campaign against graft, although suspended death sentences have been handed down in some cases. These sentences are generally commuted to life in prison after the suspension period.
Xi launched his "tigers and flies" purge more than three years ago.
The campaign ostensibly aims to punish corrupt officials in both high and low positions, and has lasted longer and struck at a more senior level than many analysts expected.
The latest senior official punished for graft is Liu Zhigeng, former vice governor of southern China's prosperous Guangdong province.
Liu was expelled from the Communist Party of China and dismissed from public office for multiple offenses, including graft, state media reported on Monday.
In October, a military court sentenced Gu Junshan, the former deputy head of the military's logistics department, to death for corruption with a two-year suspension.
Former minister of railways, Liu Zhijun, was also sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for bribery and abuse of power, in July 2013.
Su Shulin, then governor of the eastern province of Fujian, was placed under investigation for "serious violations" last October.
Bo Xilai, former party chief of the southern Chongqing municipality, was sentenced to life in prison in September 2013, after having been found guilty of corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power.
Last year, 16 senior officials were convicted of graft, according to Xinhua.