China’s Hu says graft threatens state, party must stay in charge

BEIJING,  (Reuters) – President Hu Jintao warned China’s incoming leaders yesterday that corruption threatened the ruling Communist Party and the state, but said the party must stay in charge as it battles growing social unrest.

In a state-of-the-nation address to more than 2,000 hand-picked party delegates before he hands over power, Hu acknowledged that public anger over graft and issues like environmental degradation had undermined the party’s support and led to surging numbers of protests.

“Combating corruption and promoting political integrity, which is a major political issue of great concern to the people, is a clear-cut and long-term political commitment of the party,” Hu said. “If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the party, and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state. We must thus make unremitting efforts to combat corruption.”

He promised political reform, but only to a degree, saying: “We will never copy a Western political system.”

“We will neither walk on the closed and rigid road, nor will we walk down the evil road of changing (our) flags and banners,” Hu said.

He also stressed the need to strengthen the armed forces and protect sea territory amid disputes with Japan and Southeast Asian nations.

Hu was opening a week-long congress at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People that will usher in a once-in-a-decade leadership change in the world’s second-largest economy.

Despite the high profile of the event and the focus on sensitive issues like reform and graft, the comments were not considered unusual since they mainly reinforced existing ideas and themes.

“It was a rather conservative report,” said Jin Zhong, the editor of Open Magazine, an independent Hong Kong publication that specialises in Chinese politics. “There’s nothing in there that suggests any breakthrough in political reforms.” The run-up to the carefully choreographed meeting, at which Hu will hand over his post as party chief to anointed successor Vice President Xi Jinping, has been overshadowed by a corruption scandal involving one-time high-flying politician Bo Xilai.

The party has accused him of taking bribes and abusing his power to cover up his wife’s murder of a British businessman in the southwestern city of Chongqing, which he used to run.

While Hu did not name Bo – a man once considered a contender for top office himself – he left little doubt about the target.

“All those who violate party discipline and state laws, whoever they are and whatever power or official positions they have, must be brought to justice without mercy,” Hu told delegates, one of whom was his predecessor, Jiang Zemin. “Leading officials, especially high-ranking officials, must … exercise strict self-discipline and strengthen education and supervision over their families and their staff; and they should never seek any privilege.” The New York Times said last month that the family of Premier Wen Jiabao had accumulated at least $2.7 billion in “hidden riches”, a report China labelled a smear.

JIANG’S CLOUT
Hu entered the venue accompanied by Jiang, 86, signalling the former president still wields influence in the party and in the secretive deliberations to decide on the new leaders. As Hu delivered his speech under a massive, golden hammer and sickle, a healthy-looking Jiang sat flanked by senior members, party elders such as Li Peng and incoming leaders such as Xi.

More in World News

default placeholder

Shooting at Florida nightclub leaves 2 dead, up to 16 wounded

(Reuters) – At least two people were killed and more than a dozen others, many of them teenagers, were wounded in a shooting early on Monday outside a Florida nightclub that was hosting a party for all age groups, authorities said.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Democrats in disarray on eve of convention to nominate Clinton

PHILADELPHIA,  (Reuters) – The head of the Democratic Party resigned yesterday amid a furor over embarrassing leaked emails, hoping to head off a growing rebellion by Bernie Sanders supporters on the eve of the convention to nominate Hillary Clinton for the White House.

default placeholder

ASEAN deadlocked on South China Sea after Cambodia blocks statement

VIENTIANE,  (Reuters) – South-east Asian nations failed to find common ground on maritime disputes in the South China Sea yesterday after Cambodia stuck to its demand the group make no reference to an international court ruling against Beijing in a statement, diplomats said.

default placeholder

One dead, 12 injured in blast near Nuremberg, Germany -police

BERLIN,  (Reuters) – An explosion killed at least one person and injured 12 others near the German city of Nuremberg yesterday and authorities said it was believed to be intentional.

default placeholder

Islamic State claims responsibility for Kabul attack, 80 dead

KABUL (Reuters) – Twin explosions tore through a demonstration by members of Afghanistan’s mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority in Kabul yesterday, killing at least 80 people and wounding more than 230 in a suicide attack claimed by Islamic State.

default placeholder

Spy agencies struggle to spot threats from lone, mentally ill attackers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Recent attacks on civilians in the US and Europe have exposed a gap in the intelligence community’s efforts to track suspected extremists and prevent mass killings, a half dozen American, British and French counterterrorism officials told Reuters.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: