Bedrock of China’s Communist Party must be clean government and righteous cadres, says Xi Jinping
Corruption must be rooted out and outstanding problems solved or we’ll lose mandate to govern, president says in speech marking 95th anniversary since organisation’s founding
President Xi Jinping delivered a stern, thundering speech to hundreds of elite cadres gathered in Beijing to mark the Communist Party’s 95th anniversary on Friday, warning them to stay true to party ideology and steel their resolve for the challenges ahead.
With a major reshuffle at the highest echelon just 16 months away, the party chief told the cadres – including his colleagues on the supreme Politburo Standing Committee – to stay righteous and firm.
Calling corruption “the biggest threat to our ruling party”, Xi said there would be “zero tolerance” for graft and no place for wayward officials to hide.
“If we cannot manage the party well and govern it strictly, and if we leave the outstanding problems unsolved, our party will lose its mandate to rule and will unavoidably be consigned to history,” Xi said.
He urged the party – with its 88 million-plus members and command of the country’s political resources – to hold true to its founding ideology and principles.
“How can you right others when you are not righteous?” Xi said, echoing his calls for a responsibility system to improve the party’s work style and establish clean government. “We should start with senior cadres, tightening our grip [on them] from the party’s Politburo Standing Committee and the Politburo to the Central Committee.”
Xi said political discipline was fundamental to the party’s governance and called on cadres to clean up the organisation’s “political ecology” and strengthen their loyalty.
In a stark contrast with an address by former party general secretary Hu Jintao five years ago, Xi made only a handful of references to the word “democracy”, mentioning it just eight times compared to Hu’s 45. Xi also mentioned “reform and opening up” seven times while his predecessor uttered it 25 times in 2011.
The applause was loudest and longest when Xi highlighted the authority of the constitution, stressing that nobody was above it.
Xi urged party members across the country to uphold the primacy of the party’s leadership, as it comprehensively ruled the country in accordance with the law.
“[We must] uphold the authority of the country’s constitution and law and advocate the spirit of the constitution,” he said.
“All bodies and organisations should abide by the constitution and law, which means none are entitled to override the constitution or law.”
Highlighting the leading role of the party in legislation, Xi stressed the need for China to continue pursuing rule by law through socialism with Chinese characteristics, with its exclusive role for the Communist Party.
In another departure from five years ago, no retired party leaders attended the event.
In 2011, former general secretary Jiang Zemin, former premiers Li Peng and Zhu Rongji, former top political adviser Li Ruihuan and former party Central Committee Organisation Department chief Song Ping attended.
With next year’s party congress on the horizon, Beijing has unveiled a series of changes in senior provincial and ministerial posts to pave the way for a new top party line-up.
New party chiefs have been appointed in at least four provincial administrations, with former Zhejiang governor Li Qiang taking over as party head of Jiangsu; former Hubei governor Wang Guosheng assuming the helm in Qinghai; and Luo Huining doing the same in Shanxi.
Lu Xinshe, the former governor of Jiangxi province, has been promoted to be the province’s party secretary.