President Hu Jintao stressed the importance of maintaining the 'purity' of the Communist Party, urging cadres yesterday to spare no efforts in cracking down on corruption amid leadership changes across the country, state media reported.
Hu told the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection that the task of fighting corruption 'remains arduous', Xinhua reported.
'Only by maintaining the purity [of the party] will we be able to bolster our reputation among the people as well as gaining their trust and support; only then can we consolidate the foundation of our rule,' he was quoted as saying.
Hu said strict discipline must be enforced, and the party would step up supervision of the selection and promotion of cadres.
Corruption is rampant among officials but often worsens around the time of leadership changes.
Appointments to key provincial posts are usually completed ahead of each Communist Party national congress, held about every five years. This year's national congress, to be held in the autumn, with pave the way for the biggest power transition in a decade when Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao make way for a younger, fifth generation of leaders.
Hu said last year that the party was 'soberly aware of the gravity and danger of corruption' and that graft-fighting remained a major priority to ensure the party's survival.
Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, from City University of Hong Kong, said Hu's latest comments showed the party was keenly aware of the crisis it faced but at the same time was unable to effectively tackle graft as it was unwilling to give up one-party rule. 'The perception of threat is certainly there, and yet they feel powerless - there doesn't appear to be any effective formula [for fixing] things such as corruption, an ideological vacuum etc, so there tends to be a lot of empty talk such as purity, discipline and so on,' Cheng said.
Professor Hu Xingdou, an economist at Beijing Institute of Technology, said the party should focus on introducing democracy and rule of law to tackle corruption and the decline of moral standards.
Former railways minister Liu Zhijun was sacked in February for allegedly taking billions of yuan in bribes and kickbacks in return for contracts on the mainland's ambitious high-speed rail system.