China leader Xi Jinping seeks unity and discipline among top cadres
Party chief tells Politburo members to carry out 'honest criticism' and also self-criticism
Communist Party chief Xi Jinping yesterday ordered members of the powerful Politburo to uphold the unity and authority of the party's central leadership amid a round of campaigns to clean up the party and consolidate Xi's hold on power.
"Comrades of the Politburo should take the lead to maintain the authority of the party Central Committee and be highly consistent with the committee in thinking, politics and action," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
Politburo members should be voluntarily bound by party discipline and thoroughly carry out party leadership decisions, he said, adding "to establish the good image of being highly united with the Politburo with concrete action, serious and major matters must be reported".
The warning was made during a four-day meeting that ended yesterday, during which the 25-member Politburo discussed how to fight bureaucracy and formalism - a campaign initiated by Xi in December.
During the meeting, Xi told the Politburo to carry out "friendly and honest criticisms" and self-criticism to unite comrades.
Politburo members should also make it a priority to "stand firm in politics and improve their political acuteness", he said, meaning being loyal and alert to party directives.
The meeting was held shortly after Xi launched a year-long "thorough clean-up" of undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance as well as a "mass line campaign" to better engage the public and gain their support.
Xi said Politburo members should set an example to officials at different levels by "implementing the dos before asking others to do so, and certainly do not do something themselves if they don't want others to do it", the meeting was told.
Party members would be required to reflect on their own practices and correct misbehaviour, so as to reinforce the "mass line" of the party's 80 million members. The mass line is party jargon coined by Mao Zedong to describe the need to stay in touch with the public.
"The meeting is about strengthening party discipline - especially the most senior members - ahead of the mass-line campaign and anti-corruption storm," said Professor Li Chengyan , from Peking University's school of government.
"Xi used a lot of terms that were widely used by Mao Zedong in political movements in his day. Although the term sounds the same, I believe there are some differences. Mao's era stressed the theory and people were encouraged to read a few books and study the theories. Now it's more about the actions."
Li said the keynote of the mass-line campaign was fighting corruption, which would involve power struggles in the party. He said the meeting was held to ensure "the centre of power is united, the execution of Xi's policy is not distorted and political discipline is respected in the process of carrying out his policy".
Li said Xi's warning about the need to "maintain the authority of the central leadership" could be targeting specific behaviour or talk by senior party members but might also be just a general warning that party members should not repeat the mistakes of disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai , who was a Politburo member before his downfall last year.