On December 26, 2020, China amended its Criminal Law to increase the penalties on “non-state functionaries” for taking or soliciting bribes.
Unlike the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which focuses primarily on whether a recipient of a corrupt payment is a government official, Chinese law distinguishes between “state functionaries” (i.e., those who perform “public duties”) and non-state functionaries. This distinction depends on the individual’s level and duty, rather than the employer, so mid-level or low-level employees of government agencies and state-owned enterprises are unlikely to be deemed as “state functionaries” under Chinese law. For instance, corrupt payments made to prescribing doctors are typically prosecuted under Chinese law as paying bribes to non-state functionaries. In contrast, corrupt payments to hospital administrators are charged as paying bribes to state functionaries.
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