Chinese President Hu Jintao has warned members of the ruling Communist Party that corruption could cost them the support and trust of the people.Mr Hu made the comments in an address in the Great Hall of the People in the capital, Beijing, marking the 90th anniversary of founding of the party.He praised its achievements since taking power in 1949, but said members had to be more disciplined than ever.The party is the biggest in the world, with 80 million members.In the months leading up to the anniversary, the authorities launched their biggest crackdown against dissidents in almost 20 years.In a 90-minute televised speech, Mr Hu talked about the obstacles China had overcome in the past century, and the achievements of the party “in revolution, development and reform”.“In some historical periods, we once made mistakes and even suffered severe setbacks, the root cause of which was that our guiding thought then was divorced from China’s reality,” he said, without mentioning the campaigns and policies that led to the deaths of millions of people.”Our party managed to correct the mistakes by the strength of itself and the people, rose up amid the setbacks and continued to go forward victoriously.”The BBC’s Michael Bristow visits Yan’an, the birthplace of the revolution”Today, a vibrant socialist China has emerged in the East and the 1.3 billion Chinese people are marching ahead, full of confidence under the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he added.Mr Hu nevertheless warned that the party was “confronted with growing pains”, and that the “incompetence” of some members and their “being divorced from the people” had created problems for the country.
If not effectively curbed, corruption could threaten the its legitimacy, he said.”Corruption will cost the party the support and trust of the people,” he said.”We must not turn our power into an instrument for making personal gain for a handful of individuals. It is more urgent than ever for the party to impose discipline on its members.”The president’s speech was just one of hundreds of events that have been organised to celebrate the founding of the party.There have been gala performances, celebratory television programmes, singing contests and a patriotic film, Beginning of the Great Revival, that features many of China’s biggest stars.The government also launched a new $33bn high-speed rail link, while the country’s first aircraft carrier may begin sea trials on Friday.
The Chinese are celebrating the founding of party – which actually took place on 23 July, not 1 July – 1921 in Shanghai by a small group of intellectuals, including Mao Zedong.The party took power in 1949 after defeating the Nationalist Party in a long and bloody civil war.Under Mao, the party began the Great Leap Forward in 1958, a campaign to increase industrial production during which tens of millions starved. Millions more are thought to have died during the Cultural Revolution, a crusade launched by Mao in 1966 to purify the party.After Mao’s death in 1976, his successor Deng Xiaoping introduced market reforms which helped turn China into the world’s second-largest economy.The BBC’s Michael Bristow in Beijing says hundreds of millions no longer battle poverty, and many are richer than they could ever have hoped.But ultimately, the party continues to rule because it does not allow anyone else to, our correspondent adds. – BBC