Communist official Zhao Hongzhu has hit out at critics of the crackdown on graft by President Xi Jinping (above). Photo: AFP

Communist Party official accuses crackdown critics of 'ulterior motives'


A top Communist Party official has hit back at critics that claim President Xi Jinping has wielded his anti-graft campaign as a political weapon in a power war, accusing the opponents of having "ulterior motives" for their claims.

Zhao Hongzhu, a member of the Central Committee's Secretariat, the party's nerve centre, said Xi, who is also the organisation's general secretary, launched the anti-graft campaign "with an extremely strong sense of responsibility and a spirit of deep commitment to the party, state, people and history".

"Some people at home and abroad with ulterior motives were making noises that the anti-corruption drive would be short-lived, would lead to inaction by officials, would affect economic development and was a tool for power struggles," Zhao wrote in party mouthpiece  on Monday.

Zhao, who is also deputy head of the party's graft-busting wing, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, is believed to have forged close ties with the president when he succeeded Xi as party boss of Zhejiang in 2007. Zhao's article is intended to promote Xi's thinking on the anti-graft campaign and builds on the publication of a selection of the president's remarks on clean government.

Zhao said all of the party's leaders - from Deng Xiaoping to his successors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao - had also waged war on graft.

Some observers maintain that such anti-graft campaigns have long been a means to settle party power struggles, particularly during successions or major personnel reshuffles, which usually occur during the five-yearly party congresses.

Examples of this include the expulsion on corruption charges of three Politburo members - former Beijing party chief Chen Xitong who was ousted in 1997; Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu who was purged in 2006, and Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai who was expelled in 2012.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Graft-drive critics have 'ulterior motives'