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

Thu Nov 8, 2012 9:15am EST
 

By Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - President Hu Jintao warned China's incoming leaders on Thursday 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.   Continued...

 
Delegates chat outside of the Guangxi room before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, the venue of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Barria