Ex-deputy chief of China's top planning agency pleads guilty to taking bribes

The former deputy chief of the Chinese agency in charge of steering the world's second-largest economy pleaded guilty to taking bribes at the conclusion of his one-day trial Wednesday, as China intensified its campaign against corruption.

The court said a verdict would be announced at a later date.

"Faced with the facts, I have been asking myself every time I read the indictment, is this me? How did I end up like this?" a tearful Liu Tienan said, according to court scripts. "Each morning as I wake up, I wonder where I am and how I have fallen into this state of depravation."

Liu was an official of vice-ministerial rank at China's National Development and Reform Commission, the economic planning agency. The ruling Communist Party's disciplinary agency announced in May last year that he was under investigation.

If convicted, he could be jailed from 10 years to life, although prosecutors — citing Liu's good attitude in admitting guilt — have asked for leniency.

Liu's trial opened at Langfang Intermediate People's Court in Hebei province in northern China, according to the court's official microblog. It said Liu is accused of taking 36 million yuan ($5.9 million) in bribes from owners and executives of five companies, including petrochemical and automobile firms, from 2002 to 2012.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to go after low- and high-level officials in a campaign to purge the Communist Party of corruption and other wrongdoing that have undermined its legitimacy in the public eye. In July, the party announced it was investigating the country's ex-security chief, Zhou Yongkang, one of nine leaders in the party's ruling inner circle until his retirement in 2012, for serious violations of party discipline.

Liu's case is unusual because allegations were first leveled against him by a Chinese journalist, Luo Changping, then the deputy editor-in-chief of Caijing magazine, on his microblog in December 2012. Liu also had been director of the National Energy Administration, which initially dismissed Luo's allegations as "pure slander."