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China shuts shopping site for court workers over graft concerns

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities shut down a shopping website offering deals to workers at courts on everything from beauty products to cars as the government clamps down on corruption and the legal system tries to recover from a series of scandals.

The China Courts Shopping Network, where court workers had to log in with details that identified who they worked for, went off line this week after newspapers questioned its purpose.

The Beijing News cited a legal expert as saying the site was little more than a venue for "covert bribes" and suggested legal authorities investigate how it had been allowed to operate.

President Xi Jinping has made fighting pervasive corruption a central theme of his new administration, warning the problem is so severe that it could threaten the very survival of the ruling Communist Party.

On its website, the Supreme People's Court said it had severed links with the shopping site "to prevent misunderstandings" but insisted the service was genuine.

"The site provided court workers a certain amount of help with their lives," it said.

The company that ran the site, Beijing XD-Union Technology, did not respond to calls seeking comment. The Beijing Youth Daily cited a company executive as saying the site was an ordinary e-commerce portal.

China's courts and legal bodies, directly controlled by the Communist Party, have suffered scandals in recent years over corruption and miscarriages of justice. Four senior judges in Shanghai were sacked this month after newspapers reported they had hired prostitutes at a nightclub.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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