After years of turning a blind eye and inadvertently encouraging the phenomenon to grow, the mainland leadership has finally come to its senses. The powerful interest groups formed by central and local government officials and their relatives are the biggest stumbling blocks for the leadership's efforts to improve social justice and equity. Several mainland academics published stinging articles about the danger of those special interest groups to national security and the ruling Communist Party in the run-up to the annual plenary session of the party's central committee, which ended on October 11. Briefly, this gave rise to hopes that the mainland leadership would specifically address the problem in a landmark document issued after the congress, which called for all-out efforts to narrow income gaps and defuse social unrest to build 'a harmonious socialist society' by 2020. But the fact that the leadership failed to highlight the issue in the document has made many mainland analysts wonder whether the leadership has met strong resistance from local and central government officials. If that were the case, it should hardly be surprising. As President Hu Jintao is trying to set a new policy agenda for the party by promising to spread wealth and narrow the income gap, the very success of his policies largely depends on whether he can bring down the powerful interest groups. On that front, President Hu is fighting an uphill battle and results are far from clear as the officials who have formed lucrative alliances with businessmen are mostly likely to resist every move. Official media have long singled out the monolith monopolies of the oil and gas, electricity, banking, railways, aviation and telecommunications industries as the most obvious interest groups. According to mainland academics, officials from those monopolies have mounted effective resistance to thwart repeated efforts to introduce the 'anti-monopoly' law and the fuel tax by using smart media tactics and hiring university professors and government researchers to argue on their behalf. More importantly, many central government officials are seen as colluding with the foreign-funded enterprises to prevent the central government from moving quickly to unify the corporate income tax structure for both the mainland and foreign-funded enterprises. With this unification, mainland firms are expected to pay less tax but foreign firms on the mainland will pay considerably more. In the most damning article published by the leading official magazine on current affairs, Outlook, a mainland academic warned that national security was at risk as the special interest groups colluded with the foreign business groups to exert great influence over policy directions. Jiang Yong, director of the Centre for Economic Security Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, singled out the children and relatives of senior central and local officials - who have become the powerful lobbyists for various national and foreign business interests. As Mr Jiang's article was published one day before the annual plenum closed, his article has caused more than a murmur in the corridors of power in Beijing. Some believe Mr Jiang's remarks signal the mainland leadership's intention to crack down on the widespread corruption among people who have blatantly used the influence of their parents to make huge personal gains. But will leaders do it as many of their children and relatives are key members of that group?