Xi Jinping warns corruption threatens party's rule
Leader warns that the party risks losing power as growth slows unless graft is stamped out
Communist Party chief Xi Jinping has warned that the ruling party will lose its hold on power or risk major social unrest unless widespread corruption is curbed.
Xi, who succeeded Hu Jintao as party general secretary and head of the military last week, and will replace Hu as president in March, pledged at the new Politburo's first "learning session" on Saturday that there would be no mercy shown in the battle against graft.
The party is confronting slower economic growth and a public clamouring for an end to corruption, threatening its hold on power.
"A great deal of facts tells us that if corruption is allowed to run wild, the ultimate outcome will be the end of the party and the end of the state," state media quoted Xi as saying at one of his first major meetings as party leader. "We must be alert."
Xi, the 59-year-old son of a revolutionary hero, acknowledged there were many things to accomplish during what should be the first of two five-year terms in office. He promised to deal with the most urgent problems first, including the policing of party cadres.
In recent months, a series of political scandals involving senior leaders has rocked the party and overshadowed this month's party congress, which saw a once-a-decade transition of power. The most notable scandal involved the dramatic fall of former Politburo member Bo Xilai , once a contender for the party's supreme Politburo Standing Committee, who now faces trial for corruption and abuse of power.
"Recently, our party has faced serious disciplinary and legal cases of a despicable nature, which have had a bad political effect and shocked people," Xi said, without specifying names.
Xi likened graft to "worms that can breed only in decaying matter" - an old Chinese phrase meaning "ruin befalls those who are weak". He noted that corruption had led to the collapse of governments in some countries in recent years, and called for "closer ties with the people, maintaining the health of party organs, as well as continuously improving the party's leadership and governance capacities while enhancing its capability to combat corruption".
Xi said party members, especially those in senior positions, should not abuse their posts for personal gain and that they were not above the law.
Bloomberg reported in June that members of Xi's family had amassed assets worth hundreds of millions of US dollars, and The New York Times reported last month that the family of Premier Wen Jiabao had accumulated at least US$2.7 billion in "hidden riches". Mainland authorities denied the reports and labelled them smears.