China today called on officials to put an end within the next half year to corruption, including nepotism and the waste of public funds.

The timing of the announcement in a front-page editorial in the official party newspaper, People's Daily, suggested that a directive by the government and the Chinese Communist Party was issued partly as a concession to university student activists who have expressed concern about government trade policies toward Japan and the apparent growth of corrupt economic and financial practices on the part of some officials.

The government seemed to be particularly eager to preempt any student protests today, the anniversary of much celebrated demonstrations carried out by Peking University students 50 years ago against Japanese militarism.

The editorial said that "if the youth movement goes against the demands of history, it would . . . waste the life of one or even several generations."

The editorial said that being inexperienced, young people unavoidably "become too emotional and at times are carried away by what is happening . . . "

But with the government and university administrations organizing numerous activities to mark the Dec. 9 anniversary, no significant unauthorized student activities were reported. The aim seemed to be to organize so many activities that the students would have no time to plan or carry out anything unauthorized.

The official New China News Agency said the directive was issued recently by the general offices of the party's Central Committee and the government's State Council. The Peking Evening News newspaper published a report on the directive today and national television carried a report this evening.

As described in these reports, the directive calls on party and government organizations at various levels to improve their style of work and "eliminate all corrupt phenomena . . . over this winter and the coming spring." It listed six forms of corruption and "unhealthy tendencies" that were to be eliminated:

*Illegal purchases of imported foreign cars.

*Indiscriminate dispatch of government and party personnel on overseas trips.

*Indiscriminate use of public funds for trips within China.

*Extravagant gift-giving and banquets.

*The obtaining of illegal income by party and government cadres.

*Commercial profit-making on the part of wives and children of high-ranking cadres, who, in violation of regulations, use their influential positions to gain advantages for their kin.

The New China News Agency said in its report on the directive that while most government offices performed their duties well "a few government offices and officials turned a deaf ear against abuse of power and other malpractices."

It quotes the directive as saying that those officials who have engaged in malpractices have "seriously damaged the prestige of the party and the government among the people, who are extremely dissatisfied."