China says it uses death penalty sparingly

China says it uses death penalty sparingly

Delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after attending the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, Saturday, March 11, 2017. China's top leadership as well as thousands of delegates from around the country are gathered at the Chinese capital for the annual legislature meetings. AP/Andy Wong

BEIJING — China's chief justice says his country gave the death penalty "to an extremely small number of criminals for extremely serious offenses" in the past 10 years.

Zhou Qiang didn't give any numbers of death sentences in his report to the national legislature.

China is believed to execute more people than the rest of the world combined. The actual number is a state secret.

A 2007 decision that all death sentences must be reviewed by the Supreme People's Court reduced the number of executions. Zhou said that the court has "strictly controlled and prudently applied" the death penalty.

Zhou said Sunday that over the coming year, courts will use the law to severely punish crimes of harming state security and violent terrorism "to resolutely safeguard the country's political security."