January 19, 2017 / 1:58 AM / 7 months ago

China says police and judges need absolute loyalty to party

BEIJING (Reuters) - Law enforcement and judicial officials in China must be absolutely loyal to the ruling Communist Party, state media said, in the latest warning about loyalty in the wake of the jailing of former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang.

Zhou once ran China's fearsome domestic security forces, but was jailed for life in 2015 for bribery, leaking state secrets and abuse of power, the most senior Chinese official to be ensnared in a graft probe since the ruling Communist Party swept to power in 1949.

A party statement released by the official Xinhua news agency late on Wednesday said law enforcement and judicial officials should have "clear political beliefs, high professionalism, commitment and discipline".

"Judicial and law enforcement professionals should adhere to the rule of law with Chinese characteristics, follow the correct political direction and stay absolutely loyal to the party," it added.

Systems will be established to offer training courses and supervision to guarantee party loyalty, the document said.

There will also be stricter supervision so that corruption, abuse of power and other misconduct will be punished, it added.

There was no direct mention of Zhou, but the party has repeatedly warned law enforcers of the need for party loyalty after his jailing.

Last month the party told the Public Security Ministry, which runs the police, they needed to deepen efforts to root out Zhou's "pernicious influence".

The party has been stepping up efforts to enforce discipline ahead of a sensitive leadership transition later this year, ensuring party members are all on the same page and to nip any dissent in the bud.

This week the party told Chinese public sector managers in education and media to adhere to new rules of party loyalty and "socialist statesmanship" to keep their jobs.

President Xi Jinping has moved aggressively to consolidate his power since taking office four years ago, and will further stamp his authority on the ruling Communist Party at a once every five years congress later in the year, when important officials will retire and new ones will take their posts.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry

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