Beijing, February 13:

China said today that nearly 100,000 members of the Communist Party were punished for corruption last year as the government struggles to deal with a widespread problem that threatens its grip on power.

The cases include China’s former top statistician Qiu Xiaohua, who is accused of taking bribes and having more than one wife.

“The investigation into Qiu Xiaohua has just concluded and has been turned over to the judicial organs and the trial will start soon,” Gan Yisheng, vice secretary of the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, told a news conference.

The ruling Communist Party has launched several drives in recent years to try to stamp out graft, with President Hu Jintao and other leaders saying rapid progress was needed or the legitimacy of the party would be eroded.

Gan said 97,260 members of Communist Party were punished, and that more than 80 percent of them “took bribes and violated the party’s financial and economic rules.” Besides Qiu, the other high-profile case that stunned Chinese political circles was the arrest last year of Shanghai’s former Communist Party chief Chen Liangyu, detained in a pension fund scandal that has ensnared more than a dozen officials and business executives. “The Chen Liangyu case is in the process and we will make it public once it is finished,” Gan said. He said reports that Chen had amassed stock market shares were “groundless.”