Ailing Vice-Premier Huang Ju said Shanghai should plug loopholes in its legal and political systems and scrutinise top government leaders to prevent corruption scandals, such as the recent pension fund case that has tarnished the commercial capital's image.
In an unprecedented appearance at a meeting of Shanghai delegates to the National People's Congress yesterday, Mr Huang echoed the city's mayor Han Zheng , who vowed to learn from the pension fund scandal and check officials' abuse of power.
Mr Huang, 69, the mainland's sixth-ranked leader and a former Shanghai party secretary, said: '[Shanghai] must strictly follow the central government's instructions, strengthen and perfect rules and regulations, enhance law enforcement and plug the loopholes.'
They were the first open remarks in months by Mr Huang - who has been suffering from cancer since last year and is rumoured to be about to step down because of his ailing health. They were highlighted by state television on the 7pm news.
He also appeared at Monday's opening of the NPC in a move to quell mounting speculation over his health.
'[Shanghai] must implement the collective decision-making on major issues, strengthen the supervision of main leading cadres and rip out the roots of corruption, such as collusion between officials and businesses, and abuse of power for personal gains,' Mr Huang said.
Mr Han, also the city's acting party secretary, said that in the wake of the graft case, which saw the fall of former party boss Chen Liangyu , Shanghai had set the goal of building a responsible government that served the people and ruled by law.
'Power, especially the execution of power, must be scrutinised,' Mr Han said.
Mr Han, who has yet to be named permanent party chief, has repeatedly vowed to fight corruption and pledged allegiance to Beijing after Mr Chen was sacked last year over the scandal, which involves up to 3.7 billion yuan.
The mayor also urged local officials to enhance government transparency to combat corruption, including the strengthening of public and media supervision.
Mr Han's calls for more transparency and Mr Huang's appearance were made only after dozens of overseas reporters and mainland reporters from outside Shanghai were forced to leave the meeting.