Two former vice-mayors in eastern China who were convicted of bribery were executed Tuesday, the country's supreme court said, two of the harshest sentences handed down to high-level Chinese officials in recent years.

The Supreme People's Court said in a statement on its website that Xu Maiyong and Jiang Renjie had been sentenced to death and were executed in the morning in Beijing.

Corruption is widespread among officials in China, but few cases result in death sentences unless they are linked to murder or other violent crimes.

Xu was convicted in May of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power during his time as vice-mayor of the wealthy resort city of Hangzhou, west of Shanghai.

State-run Xinhua News Agency said Xu took bribes worth more than 145 million yuan ($24 million), embezzled 54 million yuan from a state-owned property firm and illegally diverted 71 million yuan in land purchase payments to a property development company in which he had a stake.

The Ningbo Intermediate People's Court sentenced Xu to death and ordered his personal property confiscated.

Jiang was a former vice-mayor of Suzhou city in coastal Jiangsu province. Xinhua said he was convicted of taking 108 million yuan in bribes from property developers between 2001 and 2004 when he was in charge of urban planning and real estate development.

Jiang was sentenced to death by the Intermediate People's Court of the city of Nanjing in April 2008.

He helped authorities identify other suspects in the cases, but the court still decided he should be severely punished, Xinhua said.

The news agency said appeals by both men of their original death sentences were rejected by higher courts.

Although the figure is considered a state secret, China is believed to carry out more court-ordered executions each year than all other nations combined.