Premier Li Peng has severely criticised local officials for their involvement in smuggling. He emphasised that fighting smuggling activities was more than a economic battle but 'a serious political battle'. 'Smuggling encourages regionalism and diversion, leads to a break down of discipline and social order and destroys the unity of execution of national decisions,' Xinhua (the New China News Agency) quoted Mr Li as saying in a national anti-smuggling meeting which closed in Beijing yesterday. Mr Li has urged different ministries and all regions to crack-down on smuggling. 'Smuggling activities foster corruption, and threaten the survival and development of domestic industries and national security,' he said. 'Local officials found to be involved in smuggling or in helping to hide such illegal activities must be severely punished,' he said. Meanwhile Beijing Party Secretary Wei Jianxing has pledged to develop the city into a 'most-virtuous region' in China's spiritual civilisation campaign. 'Beijing should humble itself to learn from other provinces in clearing its thoughts' he said.