The guilty verdict against Liu Tienan, once deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning agency, is the latest step of the Communist Party's much-publicised anti-corruption campaign.
"Liu Tienan is sentenced to life in prison for bribery," the Langfang Intermediate People's Court said in a document handed to AFP.
He was convicted of taking 35.58 million yuan (US$5.8 million) in bribes, the document added.
It added that the case was "based on clear facts and concrete and sufficient evidence".
"The court holds that the defendant Liu Tienan as a government employee took advantage of his post to seek gains for others, illegally took cash or gifts from others by himself or via his son Liu Decheng. His activities amounted to committing the crime of bribery."
Beijing authorities picked the court in Langfang, a desolate and bleak industrial city in Hebei province, an hour's drive south of the capital, to hear the case.
State broadcaster China Central Television showed Liu facing the judge impassively in court as the verdict was read out. He wore a black jacket and trousers, and was flanked by two policemen.
Liu took bribes from various business people included cash and gifts for his son, among them a villa in Beijing and a Porsche, in exchange for project approvals and other favours, the court said during his trial in September.
He had accepted his guilt, it said then on a verified microblog account, quoting him tearfully expressing "deep repentance and remorse".
"Every round of interrogation, every sentence and even every contact with the investigators has felt like whips slashing my soul," he said.
Mr Willy Lam, a politics specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said of the proceedings against Liu: "There's a political motivation behind this case.
"If he had belonged to the right faction within the party, he would have been protected even with his dirty laundry being aired on the Internet."
He added that the anti-graft campaign was likely to focus on more officials from the powerful energy industry and bloated state-owned companies.
"The rigour with which Liu's case is being pursued shows Xi will try to tackle other sectors of the energy empire, like the nuclear companies," Lam said.
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