Government mouthpiece in veiled attack on 'Shanghai Gang' Political cliques within party and government organs have come under fire, with Xinhua warning that their formation violates the party's basic principles and damages its unity. A commentary by the official news agency yesterday warning officials not to set up cliques with former colleagues and classmates was a veiled attack on the 'Shanghai Gang' following the recent dismissal of that city's party boss. It also comes just a few days after the closure of a party plenum that set the stage for a crucial party gathering late next year, the 17th Party Congress, which will see a major reshuffle of party, government and army personnel. 'The biggest scourge of 'cliques' is that it violates the party principle of democratic centralisation, harms the party's solidarity and unity and creates an environment for corruption,' the commentary said. The creation of political cliques also led to the widespread cronyism and nepotism in the appointment and promotion of leading cadres. 'Recent corruption cases in some places have sounded the alarm bell for leading officials at all levels as to the serious danger presented by forming cliques,' it said. The article also said formation of political cliques would damage party harmony, a reference to President Hu Jintao's ideology of 'building a harmonious society', which was endorsed by the just-ended party Central Committee plenum. Mr Hu has stepped up a campaign to consolidate his position, seeking to marginalise political opponents loyal to his predecessor Jiang Zemin , who had packed government organs with political allies, many of them from Shanghai. Shanghai party boss Chen Liangyu , deposed last month after being accused of involvement in a corruption scandal, was seen as a member of the 'Shanghai Gang'. 'Promoting the secondment of officials to different places and posts would help prevent the formation of 'cliques' and do away with their breeding ground,' the article said. Mr Hu, who succeeded Mr Jiang as the Communist Party General Secretary in 2002, has moved to promote many of his political allies from his power base in the Communist Youth League to top central and regional government posts. The so-called tuanpai, or youth league clique, is expected to replace Mr Jiang's 'Shanghai Gang' as the mainland's dominant political force at next year's party congress. Other political factions on the mainland include the 'princelings faction' - the sons and daughters of retired party elders - and the 'secretary gang' who served as personal secretaries to senior leaders before rising to political prominence. Recently, the central leadership also called for measures to guard against and contain the rise of 'special interest groups' that, with government departments or officials acting as their agents, sought personal gain at the expense of public interest and social harmony. Analysts said the recent party voices highlighting the political cliques and special interest groups were significant because Mr Hu was widening a nationwide anti-corruption campaign to remove political opposition and rally support for his policy agenda.