President and Communist Party chief Xi Jinping has on called propaganda officials to present more a cohesive message to cadres and the public. The call comes amid intensifying debate over the nation's future in the run-up to a crucial party meeting in the autumn and just days before the trial of former Politburo member Bo Xilai is set to begin. Xi made the appeal in a speech delivered to a national conference on ideology and propaganda held in Beijing on Monday and yesterday. It was attended by top central and regional party ideology officials, media censors and regulators. In recent months, reformists have been locked in a debate with leftists over the merits of constitutionalism - where power is checked by higher laws - versus supreme party authority. Before his fall from grace last March, Bo championed a "red" campaign pushing Maoist nostalgia, and his trial will be closely watched for how the party treats corruption among its own. Analysts said Xi had shown greater interest in party ideology of late. "Xi appears to be more eager now than before in taking charge of ideological work," said Zhang Lifan, a political affairs analyst formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In the speech, Xi said that ideology should ensure the "correct political direction" is followed when major issues involving political principles arise. He did not elaborate. Xi, who became general secretary of the party's Central Committee in the leadership reshuffle in November, said greater efforts must be made to help cadres and citizens draw a clear line between right and wrong, according to Xinhua. He said party members and cadres should firmly adhere to their belief in Marxism and communism. Ideology was "an extremely important job for the party", he said. Officials and cadres involved in propaganda and ideology should maintain the correct political stance and promote key decisions made by the Central Committee. "[They] must resolutely maintain unity with the Communist Party Central Committee and resolutely safeguard the authority of the party's Central Committee, Xi said. China was faced with unprecedented challenges, propaganda departments should "consolidate and strengthen mainstream thinking and opinion … to spread the positive energy and thus arouse the whole society to unify and work together", he said. One important principle of propaganda and ideology was to adhere to "unity, stability and encouragement" and to carry out "positive reporting". He said the media should report on global new developments so as to allow Chinese to better understand the world. Xi also called for renewed effort to increase China's "soft power" overseas. After the speech, Chinese Academy of Governance professor Wang Yukai told Xinhua: "There is a crisis of belief in the society. Improvement in propaganda and ideological work will help build consensus and safeguard social stability."