President Jiang Zemin has underscored the importance of the party leadership over the PLA, as well as a 'correct political orientation'. In a speech marking the 60th anniversary yesterday of the Long March, Mr Jiang said the epic feat should be used as a source of education in 'spiritual civilisation'. 'The spirit of the Long March is a source of encouragement for Chinese Communist Party members and the whole nation to endure great difficulties,' he said. Mr Jiang said the need for party leadership over the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was a lesson learned. 'The victory of the Long March pointed out the absolute leadership of the party over [the PLA] is the basic principle of army building,' Xinhua (the New China News Agency) quoted Mr Jiang as saying. President Jiang heaped praise on the Zunyi meeting of 1935, which consolidated the leadership position of Mao Zedong within the Army and the party. 'Although there were lots of difficulties during the march, everybody rallied behind the party centre with Chairman Mao as the nucleus,' the President said. Mr Jiang quoted Mao's dictum about having a 'resolute and correct political orientation'. Analysts said Mr Jiang, who had staked out a position as the 'core' of the leadership, was using Mao to buttress his own slogan of 'talking more about politics'.