February 14, 2017 / 12:47 AM / 3 years ago

China's Xi says officials should prevent abuse of power

BEIJING (Reuters) - Top Chinese officials need to “build a fence” to ensure neither they nor those around them abuse power, and must practice greater self-discipline, state media cited President Xi Jinping as saying as he drives home his anti-corruption message.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a meeting at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Since assuming office four years ago, Xi has waged war on deep-seated graft, warning, like others before him, that the problem is so bad it could affect the party’s grip on power.

Dozens of senior figures have been jailed for corruption and abusing their positions, including China’s once powerful domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang.

Speaking at a workshop on fighting graft, Xi said leading officials must practice strict self-discipline and “eliminate special privileges”, state news agency Xinhua said late on Monday.

Senior officials should “build a fence against special privileges to prevent themselves and those around them from abusing power” and use their power impartially, cautiously and legally, the news agency cited Xi as saying.

Close relatives, especially wives and children, have been implicated in many recent corruption scandals.

The workshop was focused on last October’s Communist Party plenum, which strengthened rules to prevent corruption and also anointed Xi as “core” leader of the party.

Xi’s comments come ahead of an important reshuffle of the top leadership, at a 19th Party Congress, which is expected late this year.

In a separate statement, the party’s top anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, reprimanded officials in Beijing and three other regions for failing to sufficiently tackle corruption.

The commission said officials in the western city of Chongqing had failed to “sufficiently dispel the poison of ‘Bo’ and ‘Wang’”, referring to the city’s disgraced former party secretary Bo Xilai and police chief Wang Lijun.

Bo, once a rising star in China’s leadership circles, was jailed for life in 2013 on charges of corruption and abuse of power after a dramatic fall from grace that included his wife being given a suspended death sentence for murdering a British businessman.

Current Chongqing party secretary Sun Zhengcai, tipped for national leadership, said he accepted the watchdog’s assessment “without question”, saying it had “hit the nail on the head”, the commission said in its Monday statement.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel

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