Thursday 23 March 2017

Communist rule in China 'threatened' by corruption

Peter Foster in Beijing

CHINA'S president has warned that corruption could threaten the future of communist rule in the country.

"If corruption does not get solved effectively, the party will lose the people's trust and support," warned Hu Jintao, who is also the Communist Party's general secretary, in a 90-minute speech that was televised across the nation on the 90th anniversary of China's ruling Communist Party.

Addressing hand-picked delegates in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Mr Hu's speech came at the end of weeks of "Red" propaganda aimed at boosting the standing of the party that was founded in Shanghai in 1921.

The party's 80 million members have been urged to sing 'Red' songs extolling the virtues of the communist revolution and stirring up nationalist sentiment over the country's major economic achievements during the last three decades of 'reform and opening up'.

Mr Hu acknowledged in vague terms the mistakes of the party's past which include the 'Great Starvation' of 1959-62 in which 30m-40m Chinese died, and the political civil war that was the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76.

"In some historical periods, we made mistakes and suffered severe setbacks, the root cause of which was that the guiding thought then was divorced from China's reality," he said.

Focusing on the future, Mr Hu said China's headlong economic growth had thrown up "all kinds of conflicts and problems", including a yawning rich-poor divide, environmental and social pressures.

"The party is soberly aware of the gravity and danger of corruption that have emerged under the conditions of the party being long in power," Mr Hu said.

"If not effectively curbed, corruption will cost the party the trust and support of the people. The whole party must remain vigilant against corruption."

Reforms

However, Mr Hu made no mention of the kind of institutional reforms -- a freer media and a more independent judiciary -- that many analysts inside and outside China argue are essential to combat the cronyism and corruption that polls show anger ordinary Chinese.

Instead Mr Hu said the government had to "maximise harmonious elements and minimise non-harmonious elements", which in recent months has meant tighter internet and media controls and a fierce crackdown on journalists and social activists.

Mr Hu was introduced by Xi Jinping, the man who is expected to lead the country following a hand-over of power next year.

Notably absent from the celebrations in Beijing was Mr Hu's 84-year-old predecessor, Jiang Zemin, who is rumoured to be in poor health. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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