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BEIJING

China’s president issues a stark warning during the opening of a landmark congress against corruption in party ranks, an issue which he says may lead to the party’s collapse if not cleaned up

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China’s President Hu (L) and former Chinese President Jiang applaud during the opening session of the 18th Communist Party Congress. The congress will end next week with the installation of Xi as the party’s new general secretary. AP photo

China’s President Hu (L) and former Chinese President Jiang applaud during the opening session of the 18th Communist Party Congress. The congress will end next week with the installation of Xi as the party’s new general secretary. AP photo

China’s president warned that the Communist Party faces “collapse” if it fails to clean up corruption and called for an economic revamp, as he opened a congress yesterday to inaugurate a new slate of leaders.

In a 90-minute speech opening a weeklong party congress to usher in new leaders for the coming decade, Hu Jintao cited many of the challenges China faces, including the wealth gap, environmentally ruinous growth, and unbalanced development between prosperous cities and a struggling countryside.
The week-long party congress will end with a transition of power to Vice President Xi Jinping, who will govern for the coming decade amid growing pressure for reform of the communist regime’s iron-clad grip on power.

Hu delivered his starkest warning yet about fighting rampant corruption following a top-level murder and graft scandal involving former regional boss, Bo Xilai. “Nobody is above the law,” Hu said to the applause of the 2,309 delegates and invited guests gathered in the Great Hall of the People. “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,” Hu said.

New growth model

The tough appeal on corruption follows months of scandal that have further battered the party’s image in the public eye and made the power transfer more divisive. A senior politician, Bo Xilai, was purged for involvement in covering up his wife’s murder of a British businessman. There was more embarrassment in the lead-up to the congress with a New York Times report last month that said the family of premier Wen Jiabao had amassed $2.7 billion in “hidden riches.”

The president also stressed that China must recalibrate its export and investment-led growth model, after years of breakneck economic expansion that experts warn is unsustainable. “In response to changes in both domestic and international economic developments, we should speed up the creation of a new growth model and ensure that development is based on improved quality and performance,” he said.

Hu positioned the world’s second-largest economy for a more assertive role as he insisted China should be a “maritime power” that “resolutely” protects its interests. China has been skirmishing with Japan and other Asian neighbors over a slew of territorial disputes and flexing its growing military muscles to the disquiet of the United States.

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.

November/09/2012

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