Hu Jintao

Hu says rampant graft is eroding party authority

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 July, 2006, 12:00am

Stamping out corruption is crucial to our survival, president tells members at 85th anniversary of the body

President Hu Jintao called for intensified efforts to eliminate corruption within the Communist Party yesterday as he warned that widespread ills were undermining its authority, following a spate of graft cases involving top officials.

In a speech to mark the 85th anniversary of the party today, Mr Hu said stamping out corruption was crucial to the survival of the world's largest ruling party.

'Anti-corruption and building a clean government is an important strategic mission,' he said in a speech broadcast live on the national television network yesterday.

Mr Hu, also the party's general secretary, told more than 70 million members that corruption was 'particularly serious in some areas'.

'Corruption is still rampant in some areas, as cases of cadres abusing power for personal gain are frequently reported,' Mr Hu said, adding party members should take 'painstaking efforts' to combat corruption.

He called on ruling party officials to enhance their governing of the party. However, the 90-minute speech included no announcement of any new reform initiatives.

Many critics blame the government's inability to stop high-level corruption and its refusal to allow democratic reforms to publicly scrutinise officials.

'The key to solve the corruption problems lies in institutional reform to build up an independent judiciary, audit and free press systems in the country, not the ideological campaign and indoctrination of officials,' said Hu Xingdou , a political commentator with the Beijing Institute of Technology.

Professor Hu said the party chief would not introduce any significant political reform that might help solve the widespread problem until he consolidated power after the 17th party congress next year.

The communist leadership has routinely launched campaigns to stamp out corruption and step up the ideological indoctrination of officials to improve morale in recent years. However, the graft epidemic has spread wider since capitalist-style market reforms were first introduced more than two decades ago.

Last year, the government investigated nearly 8,500 officials for corruption, including eight ministerial-level leaders, Xinhua reported. Nearly 2,000 were subsequently convicted. State media announced on Thursday that the deputy commander of China's navy, Wang Shouye , had been sacked for abuse of power, corruption and 'economic crimes'.

Xinhua said his mistress reported his activities to the authorities. Mr Wang was also forced to resign as a National People's Congress deputy.

Beijing vice-mayor Liu Zhihua , who was in charge of construction projects for the 2008 Olympic Games, was sacked on June 11 on corruption charges.

Mr Hu called on all party members to maintain 'vanguard character', an ideological theme the president launched last year.

He said that only through efforts to reinforce ideological loyalty and distribute more wealth to help the poor could the party ensure it remains in power.