Jiang plan to combat corruption questioned

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2001, 12:00am

President Jiang Zemin yesterday vowed to lead the Communist Party's 'life-and-death' fight against corruption, but an outspoken critic said his speech failed to break new ground.

'I regret that Mr Jiang has failed to include in his speech a blueprint of how to carry out democratic reform,' said Bao Tong, former secretary of disgraced party chief Zhao Ziyang. Mr Bao was the most senior party member jailed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

'You could tell the problem of corruption was under the spotlight by watching how the party members responded to Mr Jiang when he expressed determination to crack down on corruption,' he said, referring to lengthy applause by party members. But he added that Mr Jiang had only paid lip-service to fighting graft, and democracy was the most effective tool to stamp it out.

Marking the 80th anniversary of the Communist Party with a 90-minute speech in the Great Hall of the People, Mr Jiang promised to build the party into a modern and powerful force capable of bringing the country into the new century.

He reiterated his 'Theory of the Three Representatives' - that the Communist Party must be representative of the foremost productive forces, the most advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the people - when explaining how to achieve his goals.

Party leaders have admitted that corruption is rampant among members and some senior cadres have been jailed or executed for graft.

Urging members to improve discipline and immerse themselves in ideological education, Mr Jiang told them to stay 'clean, honest and just', according to Xinhua.

His address was broadcast live on national television.

'Party organisations and leading cadres at all levels must take a stand to oppose corruption,' he said. 'The party does not allow any shelter for [corrupt] elements within the party. We must win the people's confidence with . . . a clean government.'

While Mr Jiang praised Communist Party founders including Mao Zedong and late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, he made clear that the future of the party would hinge on how well rank-and-file members implement his 'Theory of the Three Representatives'. The theory - first put forward by Mr Jiang in March last year - has become a major part of the canon for cadres in their political education.

Mr Jiang insisted that the Communist Party's leadership was China's only way to guarantee modernisation and avoid a 'chaotic abyss'.

He also claimed that reunification with Taiwan was inevitable and refused to renounce the use of force against the island.

'It is the duty of Chinese communists to end the state of separation between Taiwan and China's mainland and to achieve the complete reunification of China,' he said. 'The complete reunification of China represents the aspirations of the people and is a historical trend that no one and no force can stop.'

But a mainland scholar found Mr Jiang's anniversary speech lacking in new ideas on the Taiwan question.

'Mr Jiang's remark on Taiwan is a reiteration of China's determination to solve the problem of Taiwan, indicating the party will further push forward its goal of an early reunification of the motherland,' Liu Chungshun, a researcher with the Academy of Social Sciences in Wuhan, said.