Chinese President Urges Communists to Address Party Woes

Posted November 8th, 2012 at 6:30 pm (UTC-5)
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China's President Hu Jintao has called on the ruling Communist Party to combat corruption and strengthen governance to prevent disintegration as the country continues on the path of economic development.

Mr. Hu delivered a keynote report in Beijing Thursday at a Party Congress that will inaugurate a new slate of leaders. Addressing more than 2,000 delegates from around the country, the president called for efforts to modernize China's defense system and build the country into a maritime power. But, he also insisted that Beijing will pursue a foreign policy of peace.

He said mainland China and Taiwan should set up military security confidence-building mechanisms and reach a peace agreement through consultation, reiterating that China opposes any move for the island's independence. Beijing insists that self-ruled Taiwan is a part of China's territory despite more than 60 years of separation.

Addressing the future of the party, Mr. Hu said China will reform its political structure to make it more inclusive and democratic, but that it will not be copying any Western-style political system.

During the weeklong gathering, China's outgoing president is expected to hand over party leadership to his successor, Vice President Xi Jinping, who will take over as president in March.

China's new leaders will face unprecedented public anger over worsening official corruption, environmental concerns and a widening gap between rich and poor.

President Hu did not refer specifically to recent scandals involving high-ranking politicians, but he said the party “must make sure that all are equal before the law.” His former close ally, Bo Xilai, has been accused of taking massive bribes and covering up his wife's involvement in the murder of a British businessman. The case has exposed corruption and rifts within top echelons of the ruling party.

President Hu's 90-minute speech also stressed the need for a new model of economic growth in China, which has experienced slowing after decades of rapid expansion. He said China's development should be “much more balanced, coordinated, and sustainable.”

The area around China's Great Hall where the Congress is taking place is packed with security to prevent protests. But a demonstration was held in Hong Kong Thursday with activists demanding political reforms in China.