China's Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang accused some officials of "indiscipline and dishonesty" at an unusual conference of 8,000 party, Army and government officials convened here this week, the official New China News Agency reported today.
In a separate speech at the conference, Premier Zhao Ziyang was reported to have said that such wrongdoing involved "only a few people." But both leaders spoke against a background of almost daily Chinese press reports on government corruption in what appeared to be the strongest warning so far in China's accelerating crackdown on rampant economic crime associated with the introduction of sweeping economic reforms.
The news agency did not explain why so many government and Army leaders were brought together at this time, since the party convened a major national conference only four months ago. But party leaders have appeared to be on the defensive recently in the face of open discontent on the part of some university students and urban workers over food price increases and the uneven benefits that have accompanied the economic reforms.
The conference was held Monday and yesterday at the Great Hall of the People, but few people knew that it had taken place until the news agency issued its report and scenes from the conference, including Hu's speech, were broadcast on television.
At yesterday's meeting, Hu deplored "indiscipline and dishonesty" on the part of some officials, which, he said, was reflected in "political liberalism, ideological individualism, and favoritism exercised through connections."
The last time a top party leader delivered a major denunciation of corrupt officials was last September, when Chen Yun, the party's veteran economic planner, condemned nepotism and "some people, including some party members," who, he said, had forsaken communist ideals and "put money above all else."
Some observers said that parts of the speeches reported today sounded almost like a reponse to Chen. At one point, Hu quoted Chen, saying that some people, including party members, had "lost their personal and national dignity in dealing with foreigners," because they had enriched themselves through speculation, swindle, graft and bribes.
On Wednesday, the party issued a directive calling on members to "resist the corrosive influence of capitalist ideology" and not accept bribes. According to the news agency, the directive said Zhang Yi, a former deputy director of the department of supplies in the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, was sentenced to three years in prison for taking bribes.