China's leader calls on Communists to reform

Published July 1, 2006

BEIJING - China's ruling party must stamp out the rampant corruption that led to the convictions of thousands of officials last year, President Hu Jintao said Friday as the Communist Party commemorated the 85th anniversary of its founding.

"Anticorruption and building a clean government are an important strategic mission. We cannot slack off for one moment," Hu said in a nationally televised speech.

Hu called on China's Communists to "enhance our abilities to govern the party." However, the 90-minute speech included no announcement of any new reform initiatives.

Many critics blame China's inability to stop corruption on the ruling party's monopoly on power and refusal to allow outside scrutiny of its activities.

Hu's appeal for cleaner living by officials has been a consistent theme of his 3½-year tenure as party general secretary. At the same time, his government has rejected public appeals for greater transparency and has jailed activists who call for democratic change.

Last year, Chinese authorities investigated 8,490 government officials, including eight ministerial-level leaders, for corruption, the government's Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday. It said nearly 2,000 were convicted in court.