Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday warned the Communist Party ’s top provincial and ministerial officials not to waver on anti-corruption efforts and to strictly follow Beijing’s strategic decisions as his administration prepares for a crucial national gathering this year, according to state media reports. Xi made the remarks in Beijing at a Central Party School study session to ensure that provincial and ministerial top brass grasp the key points of a party plenum held late last year, state news agency Xinhua reported. The Chinese leader’s speech echoed recent remarks he made that were seen by analysts as setting the stage for the 20th national party congress to be held in the second half of this year, during which a major party reshuffle will be discussed. Hailing an ongoing anti-corruption campaign as “an overwhelming victory”, Xi told the senior cadres that they must keep up the “spirit of self-revolution” and never let their guard down. “[We] must continue to fight the tough and long battle of building an honest and clean party and rid it of corruption,” Xi said. “There will be no mercy regardless of who you are if party rules and the country’s laws are broken.” Xi launched the anti-corruption campaign soon after he became the party’s general secretary in 2012. Tens of thousands of officials have been arrested and prosecuted since the campaign started. Is printing trillions of yuan the ‘only solution’ to China’s population woes? The two most recent senior officials to be ensnared are Zhang Yongze, a vice-chairman of the Tibet autonomous region government, and Wang Bin, chairman of China Life Insurance (Group). Their cases were announced by the party’s anti-graft investigators last week. While the focus of Xi’s speech was on corruption, he also pushed them to align with key messages from the Sixth Plenum of the Communist Party’s Central Committee held in November, wherein Xi’s position was put on par with party immortals Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. “[We must] have a whole picture perspective so [we can have] a full understanding of the different kinds of contradictions, but at the same time have a clear focus on the key contradictions and main tasks we face,” he said. In addition, Xi also told cadres that they must follow the party leadership closely and execute Beijing’s orders faithfully. “In setting work ideas, plans, policies and measures, all regions and departments must consciously align them with the theories and directions laid down by the party so that they are totally in line with them and without deviation,” he said. “[Everyone] must follow and implement the strategic decisions by the party central without conditions, and make sure that [the execution] is totally accurate with no cutting corners or distortion.” Domestic expansion, infrastructure key to China’s growth as Omicron spreads In his speech, Xi also urged senior cadres to steep themselves in their party’s history so they could have a proper understanding and appreciation of its mission and values. According to Xinhua, the study session was attended by all members of the policymaking Politburo Standing Committee, including Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislative body. It was Li’s first public appearance since late December, when he was conspicuously absent from a New Year celebration meeting of the country’s top political advisers.