The mainland marked the 91st anniversary of the Communist Party yesterday in a low-key affair, compared with the elaborate celebrations last year. Vice-President Xi Jinping reportedly presided over the launch of the multimedia websites for party members on Saturday, while Xinhua and the People's Daily appeared to be the only mainstream state media yesterday to carry editorials glorifying the party. Last month, the mainland successfully concluded its longest space mission with its first female in space and two other crew members on board, and it also challenged the deep-sea world record as its manned submersible dived 7,000 metres below sea level. It appears the historic voyages were aimed more at drumming up national pride and enthusiasm for the party's upcoming 18th congress, which is expected to approve the country's once-in-a-decade leadership change, rather than serving as anniversary presents. As the date of the congress, scheduled for sometime in autumn, draws nearer, there has been rising scrutiny and speculation - both international and domestic - about the party's future direction and the composition of its new leadership. On July 1 last year, President Hu Jintao warned that the party was faced with four dangers, including that it was 'lacking in spirit, incapable, divorced from the people, and passive and corrupt'. As if to prove his point, the party has since been thrown into one of its biggest political crises in decades, with Bo Xilai , then party secretary of Chongqing and a powerful Politburo member, sacked for 'serious violations of party discipline', his wife implicated in the murder of a British businessman and his former police chief having fled to the US consulate in Chengdu before being arrested. As first reported in the South China Morning Post, the mainland leadership appears to have reached a consensus and is expected to make public announcements on how to deal with the Bo saga in the run-up to the congress. The Bo scandal has galvanised the party's liberals and reformists to push for more political reforms by boosting transparency and accountability in government. There have been renewed calls for the central government to accelerate efforts to require party officials to publicly declare their assets, and those of their spouses and children. Such calls were first made more than 20 years ago, but little progress has been made as officials have cited various reasons - even technical ones such as the incomplete network linking banks and tax collectors - to delay the process. But credible speculation on how Bo's relatives and associates took advantage of his position and influence to make lots of money for themselves has further enraged mainlanders who have long complained about the collusion between corrupt officials and unscrupulous businessmen. It is therefore encouraging to note that Xi, widely expected to replace Hu, has made strong remarks on combating graft on many occasions, raising hopes that he will tackle the corrupt bureaucracy, which could also help him promote his allies to more important positions. That probably explained why Bloomberg's website was blocked on the mainland after it published a report on Friday detailing the massive wealth amassed by Xi's relatives. The report did not allege any illegal activity by Xi's relatives, nor did it directly link the wealth to Xi. Instead of taking this revelation as an embarrassment, Xi could take the initiative and set an example by making public his personal assets and those of his family.