China's former railways minister Liu Zhijun has given a suspended death sentence for his role in a huge corruption scandal, state media reports.

Liu was accused of using his position of influence to help about 11 business associates win promotions and project contracts and accepted 64.6 million Chinese yuan ($10.5 million) in unspecified bribes between 1986 and 2011.

Under Chinese law the death penalty can be imposed for taking bribes exceeding 100,000 yuan ($ 16.000). The official Xinhua News Agency on Monday said the sentence was with a two-year reprieve by a court in Beijing. After two years, such sentences typically are commuted to life in prison if the inmate shows good behaviour.

The court also ordered all of Liu's personal property to be confiscated and issued a separate sentence of 10 years in prison for abuse of power.

Liu's lawyer Qian Lieyang said his client would likely not appeal the sentence.

Once hailed as the "father" of China's flagship high-speed rail network, Liu was sacked as railways minister in 2011 after eight years in the post,

The country boasts the world's longest high-speed network, but a high-speed crash killing some 40 people in 2011, sparked public criticism that authorities compromised safety in their rush to expand the network. The railways ministry was disbanded with its administrative functions handed to the transport ministry.