BEIJING (AP) _ A vice minister of railways has been ousted for allegedly taking bribes, becoming one of the highest-ranking officials toppled in a nationwide campaign against corruption, the government said Friday.

Luo Yunguang, who had been vice minister since 1986, was the fifth Railways Ministry official accused of corruption in the past six months.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Luo ignored corruption by his aides, and personally accepted a gold ring, a refrigerator and the equivalent of $465 in bribes. It did not say what he did in return for the bribes.

He has returned the money and the ring, it said, and prosecutors are looking into the case. He has not yet been legally charged.

Luo ''seriously discredited the reputation of the Railways Ministry and had a vile political influence,'' state TV said.

Top leaders ordered a nationwide offensive against official corruption last summer, after watching student pro-democracy protesters win massive public support in large part because of their demands for clean government.

In recent years, gift-giving has become an essential part of most official applications, with bribes ranging from a bottle of liquor for a scarce ticket to cash for a passport or an apartment.

The government set up special hotlines for reporting corruption, and offered leniency to people who confessed. By year's end it said it had received reports of more than 216,000 cases and had dealt with more than a quarter of them.

However, many Chinese remain cynical about the government clean-up efforts, noting that most of those charged are lower level officials and that no children of high officials have been charged even though several are engaged in questionable trade activities.

Other high officials charged include Hainan Gov. Liang Xiang, accused of helping family members in illegal profiteering schemes, and the vice chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Tohti Sabir, accused of taking bribes. Liang is widely believed to have been targeted because he was an ally of ousted Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang.

Xinhua said the State Council, China's Cabinet, ordered Luo to hand over all his illegal income, and will continue to investigate his activities. The party is conducting its own investigation, it said.

Four Railways Ministry officials, including the director of the ministry's Transportation Department and his three aides, were accused in October of taking bribes to allocate rail cars for transporting goods. The demand for cars far exceeds supply.