A SENIOR provincial party deputy secretary has vowed to take tough measures to crack down on criminals to maintain social stability in Shandong province. Li Wenquan, Deputy Communist Party Secretary of Shandong province who is in charge of security matters, was quoted by the China News Service (CNS) as saying at a provincial police conference that there could be no mercy in punishing criminals. But the CNS report claimed the majority of the police in Shandong were clean and honest and only a handful had broken the law. The Shandong conference coincided with a national meeting in Beijing last week when state security and disciplinary officials discussed measures to wipe out corruption and abuses of power within the Communist Party. In spite of its relatively developed economy, Shandong is considered by foreign observers as a politically conservative province where hundreds of prisoners are in jail for their political beliefs. According to the CNS, Mr Li told the security officials that there remained a large number of social problems as well as problems in 'spiritual civilisation' - a codeword used by Chinese politicians referring to ideological matters. 'There are still many problems in maintaining public order and serious incidents happen constantly,' Mr Li said. 'If we fail to handle these problems well, they can affect social stability,' he added. He also told the officers that they should heighten their 'sense of political responsibility' in uncovering and defusing crises. According to the CNS, Shandong police last year arrested over 50,000 suspects and exposed as many as 5,400 criminal syndicates and groups. However, misconduct by police was so low that internal investigations by the police themselves found only 147 officers had broken the law last year. In a national conference on the conduct of Communist Party cadres, Wei Jianxing, a Politburo member, however, set down five 'codes of conduct' for the party cadres. These rules set strict guidelines for cadres in areas such as housing and entertainment. And they forbade cadres of money-losing firms to buy imported vehicles before their businesses had turned around. Moreover, cadres were warned not to accept bonuses from companies. They were also not allowed to visit expensive entertainment facilities such as nightclubs with public money.