The Communist Party Politburo has warned of the grave challenge facing the mainland in the fight against corruption. At a meeting yesterday, chaired by President Hu Jintao , to draw up a graft-fighting strategy for 2009, the Politburo - the powerful central policymaking institution - called upon party members to remain vigilant since corruption was still endemic within some organisations and sectors. 'We also face many new problems and challenges in tackling corruption and pushing for a clean party,' the Politburo admitted. In an article published in the People's Daily, the party's main mouthpiece, He Guoqiang , the party's top graft fighter, accused a 'small pocket' of members and officials of straying from its basic ideology and guidelines and showing disregard for the party line. Mr He also accused some party members of divulging party and state secrets and spreading rumours, and called on members to remain alert for such activities. The acknowledgement came as the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's top graft watchdog, said it had disciplined nearly 5,000 officials at the county level and above in the 12 months to the end of November. Xinhua quoted Gan Yisheng, the commission's deputy secretary, as saying that in all, 151,000 officials had been disciplined in that period, mainly in connection with corruption, dereliction of duty and trampling upon the interests of the people. Without an independent judicial system and with no checks and balances, official corruption has been rife on the mainland for much of the 30 years since it embraced the market economy. The Communist Party has long regarded corruption as its biggest enemy - one that risks compromising its right to rule and threatens its grip on power. That has prompted the party to come down hard on corruption. In October, a judge sentenced to death former Beijing deputy mayor Liu Zhihua , who was in charge of building venues for the Olympics, but suspended the sentence for two years. Liu was convicted of accepting 7 million yuan (HK$7.9 million) in bribes and leading a decadent lifestyle, including keeping mistresses. The Politburo said the party had made headway in fighting corruption since the 17th party congress in September last year. 'In terms of fighting corruption and building a clean party, we're more assertive in our direction and more clear-minded in our vision,' it said. However, detractors have been dismayed by the party's refusal to accede to wider public scrutiny. It has largely kept graft-fighting an internal task and has turned a deaf ear to widespread calls for access to information about how much party and government officials and their families own - something many analysts believe would be an effective means of keeping corruption in check.