Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao highlighted the need for China to become a global cultural power - matching its rising economic clout - in his report to the party's 18th national congress yesterday. "Cultural strength and competitiveness symbolise a country's economic strength and its national revitalisation," he said. The party's emphasis on cultural strength is aimed at cultivating "soft power" internationally while battling a perceived decline in moral standards on the mainland amid decades of breakneck economic growth. While stressing the significance of core socialist values in China's cultural development, Hu also called for greater creativity and diversity to boost the appeal of Chinese culture domestically and overseas. As a key plank of his cultural strategy, he stressed the need to boost public morality to help the party rule through a combination of law and moral teaching. The theory, first espoused by his predecessor, Jiang Zemin , in 2001, had been largely shelved until recently. Hu reaffirmed a commitment to tackling some key moral issues related to the credibility of governments, justice departments and business enterprises and a general lack of goodwill in the broader community.