Skip to main content

Hu warns of corruption as key Chinese leadership meeting begins

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:20 PM EST, Thu November 8, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thousands of delegates gather in Beijing for the meeting
  • The key meeting follows a year beset by scandal for the party
  • Four Tibetans set themselves on fire, the Tibetan government in exile says

What are your views on China's power transition? Send us your comments and experiences.

Beijing (CNN) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao, set to begin handing over power to his successor, warned Thursday that a failure to deal with corruption could bring down China's ruling Communist Party and the state it controls.

Hu was speaking at the party's 18th National Congress in Beijing, a key meeting of top officials that will usher in a new set of leaders of the world's most populous nation. After a decade in power, Hu is expected to hand over the party's top job to Vice President Xi Jinping.

"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 of corruption during his speech at the start of the congress in the Great Hall of the People in the heart of the Chinese capital.

His comments to a vast room full of delegates stood out in light of the huge political scandal that has rocked the party this year. The controversy involved the former high-flying politician Bo Xilai who is now under criminal investigation after being ousted from his posts and the party itself. He is accused of corruption, abuse of power and improper sexual relationships; official news reports have said Bo made "severe mistakes" related to the killing of a British businessman -- a crime for which Bo's wife was imprisoned -- and a diplomatic incident involving his former police chief in Chongqing.

After months of speculation, China unveiled the elite group of leaders who will set the agenda for the country for the next decade, including new Communist Party General Secretary and presumptive next president Xi Jinping. After months of speculation, China unveiled the elite group of leaders who will set the agenda for the country for the next decade, including new Communist Party General Secretary and presumptive next president Xi Jinping.
China's top leaders meet
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: China\'s top leaders meet Photos: China's top leaders meet
Who is Xi Jinping?
China's National Congress meets
What China's leadership change means

More than 2,200 delegates from across China are gathering for the Congress, and they in turn select the 200-plus members of the party's Central Committee, who in turn appoint the Politburo and ultimately the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee -- the country's decision-makers.

But most, if not all, of the outcomes are predetermined after a long period of secretive deal-making between party power brokers.

The congress itself meets every five years. It is designed to assess the country's progress, and set new directions. Every 10 years it selects the new leadership.

This year, the legacy of the Hu years is under the microscope. Under Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao, China's economy has continued to grow, lifting tens of millions of people out of poverty.

China is now the world's second-biggest economy and closing fast on the United States. But there have been disappointments and discontent along the way, and Hu's much vaunted "harmonious society" is showing signs of cracking.

Chinese leaders have endured a tumultuous year. The veil of secrecy around the party has been lifted, with reports of rifts and infighting. And the fall of Bo brought about China's biggest political scandal in decades.

Bo, once party chief of the massive metropolis of Chongqing, is now in disgrace awaiting trial. His wife, Gu Kailai, is in prison, convicted of murdering a British business associate.

Senior party leaders and their leaders have had to deal with unusual scrutiny of their affairs, with Western news organizations publishing investigations into the wealth accumulated by the families of Xi and Wen.

Chinese authorities responded to the reports by blocking the websites of the news organizations involved: Bloomberg News and The New York Times. But China's army of censors is having to grapple with the rapid rise of social media platforms on which information moves and mutates at a dizzying pace.

China is treading many fault lines: a widening gap between rich and poor, rising unrest about issues like pollution and land seizures, and a slowing economy that some say is in need of serious reform.

Beijing set for leadership transition
China prepares for political transition
Inside China's Communist Party Congress

Hu mentioned some of those tensions Thursday along with several other contentious issues -- like food safety, health care and law enforcement -- acknowledging that "there are a lot of difficulties and problems on our road ahead."

Another issue Hu's government has struggled to tackle during its decade in power is the discontent and unrest among Tibetans living under Chinese rule.

Authorities were given a grim reminder on Wednesday of the disillusionment and desperation of many Tibetans in western areas of China after four people set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule.

One teenage Tibetan monk died and two were injured after self-immolating in a majority Tibetan region of Sichuan Province, said Penpa Tsering, a spokesman for the Tibetan parliament in exile in Dharamsala, India. And a 23-year-old Tibetan woman died a separate incident in Qinghai Province, Tsering said, citing unidentified people in Tibetan areas.

Dozens of Tibetans are reported to have set themselves ablaze in the past 18 months to express their unhappiness with Chinese rule.

In his speech Thursday, Hu also made a case for China to strengthen its presence on the seas off its coast. Beijing has become embroiled in a string of territorial disputes with countries like Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam over areas thought to contain large reserves of natural resources under the sea bed.

The leadership should "build China into a maritime power," Hu said, citing the need to exploit marine resources and "resolutely safeguard China's maritime rights and interests" among the goals.

CNN iReport: What do you think of the power transition? Share your comments and experiences and best could be used online or on air.

CNN's Stan Grant, CY Xu and Jaime FlorCruz contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
updated 3:12 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is Xi Jinping a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
updated 2:31 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
updated 12:14 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
Hong Kong's narrow streets were once a dazzling gallery of neon, where banks and even bordellos plied their trade under sizzling tubular signs.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Three more officials have been given the chop as part of China's anti-corruption drive, including former aides to the retired security chief.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
As thousands of Hong Kongers prepare for an annual protest, voices in China's press warn pro-democracy activism is a bad idea.
updated 12:37 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Hong Kongers are demanding the right to directly elect their next leader, setting up a face-off with Beijing.
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
updated 4:36 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
updated 11:34 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
updated 2:38 AM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
updated 4:12 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Hong Kongers have reacted angrily to a Chinese government white paper affirming Beijing's control over the territory.
The emphasis on national glory -- rather than purely personal achievement -- is key.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Rapid development hasn't just boosted the economy -- it has opened up vast swathes of the country, says a man who has spent much of his life exploring it.
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people "ill" in China.
ADVERTISEMENT