The official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday that 754 officials had been penalised or detained, citing a report released at a cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.

Corruption is regularly singled out by the Chinese as one of the most urgent problems facing the country.

By October, China's treasury had recovered 20.87 billion yuan ($2.52 billion) out of the 28.6 billion yuan that had been found to have been "illegally kept" by government departments, Xinhua said without giving details.

China's leaders admit corruption is rife in the country, especially in the judicial and law enforcement systems.

According to Transparency International (TI), an anti-graft organisation, crimes by judges and court officals include abuse of power in lawsuit proceedings, intentional errors of judgement and taking bribes.

China's rapid economic transition has also resulted in huge construction investment, breeding widespread corruption in the awarding of public contracts, says TI.