Scholars working for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) should be judged mainly on their loyalty to communist ideology, the People's Daily has said, in yet another warning for the think tank's academics to toe the party line.
The party mouthpiece said adherence to orthodox ideology should be the top criterion for assessing the performance of those working for CASS, which is the central government's top think tank and a premier source of insight into social policy.
"CASS will list ideology as criterion for the assessment of cadres and [those who] violate political discipline will be fired without exception," the article said.
Zhao Shengxuan, vice-president and deputy party chief of CASS, was quoted as saying that the academy would "treat political discipline as a criterion of the utmost importance in the assessment of the academics".
The warning comes after an official with the party's anti-graft and discipline watchdog warned of "infiltration by foreign forces" in the academy.
In an internal speech on June 10, Zhang Yingwei, head of the party's discipline inspection office at CASS, accused the institute of being "infiltrated by foreign forces" and "conducting illegal collusion during [politically] sensitive times".
Zhang said the academy had some "political problems", without elaborating.
Analysts said the tightening of ideological control on academics reflected fears among top leaders over cracks in the government's armour in the world's last major nation under one-party rule.
"The efforts to strengthen the ideological control on academics reflect the leadership's overwhelming fears that communist rule in the country is under threat," said Zhang Ming, a professor of political sciences at Renmin University.
The warnings to CASS come amid President Xi Jinping's sweeping ideological campaign targeting liberal intellectuals and an intense crackdown on political dissent.
The People's Daily article cited several top CASS party officials as saying that efforts must be made to build the academy into a stronghold of orthodox Marxism.
The academy founded a school of Marxism in February, and the first batch of 100 graduate students would begin their doctoral studies on Marxist theory this summer. CASS said it had invited prestigious scholars to be doctoral mentors.
But Zhang Ming said most mentors recruited for the programme were those known for their conservative views.