CHINA'S ruling party has launched a massive propaganda campaign to revive the legendary hero Lei Feng to promote the drive for a market economy and to beat corruption. Yesterday, 30 years after Chairman Mao exhorted the masses to ''Learn from Comrade Lei Feng'', official newspapers devoted extensive space to stories about the hero. ''The spirit of Lei Feng lives forever,'' read the headline of a lengthy editorial in the party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, which was half full with stories about Lei Feng. The legend of Lei Feng, killed in a truck accident in 1962 at the age of 22, has been at the centre of the party propaganda campaign in the past decades to win public backing for communist rule and a socialist course of development. At a memorial session for the hero held in Beijing on Thursday, senior party leader Mr Hu Jintao said the spirit of Lei Feng held significance for the Chinese race and their society in the past and the future. He summed up the spirit of Lei Feng as the commitment to serve the people wholeheartedly, love the motherland, strive for the collective interest, and keep conviction over socialism and good work ethics. Mr Hu, a newly-promoted Politburo Standing Committee member, called for new thoughts over the ''Learn from Lei Feng'' campaign to meet the needs of reform, modernisation and the open door. The campaign should deal with practical matters, he said. One key theme was to enhance work ethics and correct corrupt practices, particularly in the service sector, Mr Hu said. The call for government cadres to work faithfully for the public comes amid the growth of commercialism in every corner of the country. Government organs have been actively engaged in commercial activities to partly finance themselves. But underpaid cadres have been accused of moonlighting to make ends meet. As the country is heading into a new phase of economic reform, ideologues are fearful of the spread of corruption and malpractice. Meanwhile, the official press indicated that Lei Feng's example was still rooted in real life. ''Hundreds of millions'' of young Chinese studied Lei Feng's example, the China Youth Daily gushed. In the intellectual Guangming Daily, Mr Liu Jinghan, a medical officer and former friend of the model soldier, said he had been inspired by Lei Feng to become head of Beijing's military hospital. The yearly commemoration of Mao's call is used to encourage the Chinese, particularly the young, to engage in public works such as street-sweeping. This year, the authorities are using the occasion as a convenient opportunity to drum up public support for Beijing's bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games. ''This 30th anniversary falls just at the right time to mobilise the population behind Beijing's bid for the Olympic Games in the year 2000,'' one Western diplomat said.