Party members preoccupied with the expected leadership transition at the coming 16th Party Congress have been urged to focus on the wider goals of stability and unity.
The message was drawn from a speech by President Jiang Zemin on May 31 in which he coined the new 'Three Emphases' - calling for renewed attention to the overall situation, unity and stability.
The point, made in a speech to the Central Party School, was highlighted on the front page of the People's Daily on Monday.
The commentary was seen by political observers and Beijing intellectuals as part of Mr Jiang's campaign to rally support for a bid to stay in power. 'On a deeper level, the ideological campaign is a naked power play. Mr Jiang is trying to minimise 'noises' or objections which challenge his alleged intention to remain the core of the next generation of leaders,' a source close to the party said.
'It shows Jiang is also determined to stay influential and see his Theory of The Three Representatives [that the party must be 'representative' of the most advanced production forces, of the most advanced culture and of people's interests] as the core ideology of the next generation of leaders even if he stepped down from his party positions as the general secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission,' the source said.
The report - with the byline 'Staff Commentator' - indicated it represented the stance of the party central committee. It said that in order 'to emphasise unity', cadres should be guided by Mr Jiang as the core of the party leadership. It added that 'in order to emphasise stability, the party had to treasure the existing excellent situation', referring to the economic success achieved under the 13-year leadership of Mr Jiang.
'It is important to unify thoughts and consolidate power in a bid to improve party construction and stabilise reform development,' the commentary said. The new 'Three Emphases' was compared to the old 'Three Emphases', which were first raised in 1999 and urged that party cadres should improve themselves in three areas: studying party ideologies, being 'righteous' and 'being politically correct'.
The commentary was one of seven articles planned for the campaign backing Mr Jiang's May 31 speech, which was intended to set the tone for the 16th Party Congress, expected to be held in September or October. It came as the party leadership began to gather for its annual conferences at the Beidaihe summer retreat.
The military, which has long rejected liberal academics' suggestions that the army be placed under a civilian government, yesterday also pledged allegiance to Mr Jiang, saying his emphasis on the party leading the army was the ultimate guarantee for national security and stability.