Chinese President Xi Jinping says party cannot rest on laurels in fighting corruption

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's ruling Communist Party cannot rest on its laurels in the fight against corruption, President Xi Jinping said ahead of a key party congress later this year where he will cement his grip on power.

Since assuming power in late 2012, Mr Xi has pursued a relentless campaign against corruption, warning that the problem could threaten the party's ability to retain power, though some analysts say he is also taking down political rivals.

The progress made in governing the party since the last party congress held nearly five years ago had been praised by the people, the official Xinhua news agency late on Thursday (July 27) cited Mr Xi as saying.

"But we absolutely cannot be self-satisfied and blindly optimistic. Strictly governing the party is still a heavy burden," Mr Xi told a meeting of provincial and ministerial government officials.

"We will forever be on the path of comprehensive, strict governance of the party. One political party, one political authority, its prospects and fate rest on the support of the people."

The comments come days after China's anti-corruption watchdog said the former party boss in the south-western city of Chongqing, Sun Zhengcai, had been placed under investigation for "suspected serious violations of discipline", a term that can encompass everything from taking bribes to not toeing the party line.

Mr Sun, the latest senior official implicated in the anti-corruption campaign, was once considered a contender for top leadership.

He had been party chief in Chongqing, one of China's most important cities, until an abrupt announcement this month that he had been replaced by Mr Chen Min'er, a rising political star close to Mr Xi.

Mr Chen is seen as a potential new member of the party's elite Standing Committee when it is unveiled after a reshuffle at the upcoming congress.

Mr Xi's anti-corruption crackdown has punished more than a million party members, jailed top military figures and retired security czar Zhou Yongkang, the most senior official toppled for corruption since 1949.