Former premier Zhu Rongji has implicitly criticised the central government for its failure to establish a corruption-free bureaucracy.
Attending a Peking Opera show held by the Shanghai municipal government on Wednesday to celebrate the coming Lunar New Year, the 83-year-old reminded the 1,500 people in the audience - including more than 1,200 officials with the rank of bureau head - that the city had a 'clean government' from 1987 to 1991 under his administration.
'Looking back to the era when I was [Shanghai's party head] under the leadership of president Jiang Zemin, I once said that 'only when we watch closely the 506 bureau officials and give them the chance to contribute their talents, can the Shanghai government get our clean-government job done and be an invincible government,' Zhu told the Shanghai officials.
It was his second criticism of the mainland's state of affairs in the past year, following a broadside at the education system in April.
Chen Yongmiao, a Beijing-based political analyst and rights activist, said Zhu was trying to flaunt his anti-corruption achievements as Shanghai party head and during his premiership from 1998 to 2003.
'Zhu is a wise former senior official who skilfully expressed his gripes about the anti-corruption failures of incumbent officials, especially President Hu [Jintao] and Premier Wen [Jiabao] ,' Chen said.
'In fact, he was praising his success in setting up a clean government image and criticising the incumbent leadership for failing to maintain such a good image.'
Zhu said many senior officials performed like opera singers when making speeches.
'Your leaders get used to raising their voices when they are looking forward to getting your applause,' he said. 'Our [Peking opera] artists also do the same thing, also hinting that the audience should applaud by raising their singing.'