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June 27, 2022

China congress: Hu Jintao opens party meeting on leadership change

The “serious challenge” of corruption should be addressed, the President said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has opened a Communist Party congress that begins a once-in-a-decade power transfer with a stark warning on corruption, BBC reports.Addressing more than 2,000 delegates, Mr Hu said that a failure to tackle the issue “could prove fatal to the party”. China faced unprecedented opportunities and challenges, he said, and the nation should “aim higher and work harder”. His speech kicks off a week-long meeting that will see a new set of leaders unveiled. Security is very tight across Beijing, with many dissidents detained or under house arrest, rights groups say.Mr Hu told delegates at the Great Hall of the People that China had to adapt to a changing domestic and global environment.“We must aim higher and work harder and continue to pursue development in a scientific way, promote social harmony and improve the people’s lives,” he said.China’s development should be made more balanced and sustainable, he said, and the “serious challenge” of corruption should be addressed. “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,” he said.Anyone who broke the law would be brought to justice, “whoever they are and whatever power or official positions they have”, he said. The corruption warning echoed one delivered 10 years ago during the previous leadership transition, when the party was told it risked “heading for self-destruction” if it did not tackle the issue.On the internet, thousands of people have left comments appealing for better measures to fight corruption on official websites launched for the congress by the three major party mouthpieces – Xinhua news agency, People’s Daily and China Central Television (CCTV). Economic growth has also slowed in recent months and the wealth gap is an issue of great concern, as is China’s ageing population. Mr Hu said a new model for economic growth was needed to respond to domestic and global changes. Amid rumbling regional tensions over territorial rows in the East China and South China Sea, Mr Hu said the nation should “resolutely safeguard” maritime rights and become a maritime power. “Active and prudent efforts” should be made to reform the political structure, he said, without giving details. The congress – for which no formal schedule has been revealed – will last a week and will be keenly observed for any indications of the leadership’s future plans. During the congress a new central committee is selected. It then chooses the country’s highest decision-making body, the Standing Committee of the Politburo.The process takes place behind closed doors, with the make-up of the top bodies in reality decided ahead of time.The current Standing Committee has nine members, of whom seven including Mr Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao are expected to step down.

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