Historically, the general perception is that the enforcement agencies in China pay more attention to corruption of a state-functionary than that of a staff member of an entity in the private sector. In recent years, ABC law in China and its enforcement have been undergoing a great deal of reform and continuing to evolve. Notably, China has recently amended paragraph 1 of Article 163 of the Criminal Law relating to the criminal sanctions of accepting bribes by a non-state functionary (Amendments). The Amendments have taken effect as of 1 March 2021. 

Under the Amendments, the definition of the offence of accepting bribes by a non-state functionary remains unchanged – it means a staff member of any company, enterprise, or other types of entities who, by taking advantage of his or her position, solicits or illegally accepts money or property of a relatively large amount from another person in order to seek benefits for another person.

The gravity of the offence is now measured by the amount of the bribe in question and the circumstances in which the offence was committed and can be divided into the following categories (thereby resulting in different criminal sanctions):

  1. for a "relatively large" amount, a fixed-term imprisonment or criminal detention of not more than three years, plus a fine, 
  2. for a "large amount or if there are other serious circumstances", a fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than ten years, plus a fine, and 
  3. for a "very large amount or if there are other very serious circumstances", a fixed-term imprisonment of not less than ten years or life imprisonment, plus a fine.

Overall, the Amendments have sought to impose heavier penalties on the bribe taker. We will update you on the promulgation of any judicial interpretation in this space.