Mr. Hu cautioned the core leadership of the party that its "survival" rested on tackling rising corruption, warning that doing so would require a "complicated and arduous battle".
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday said economic development and ensuring social stability would remain the priorities of the Communist Party of China (CPC), even as he warned its leadership that tackling widespread corruption within the party was key to "ensuring its very survival" as it marked its 90th anniversary.
Addressing a grand celebration at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Friday morning, Mr. Hu said the CPC would "actively yet prudently" carry out political reforms, but stressed that any reforms would be carried out under the "core" leadership of the party.
"We must see to it that all state powers belong to the people... and ensure that the people can participate in democratic elections, decision making, administration and oversight in accordance with the law," he said.
However, the biggest priority for the party, he said, would be to uphold stability, which he described as "a critically important task."
"Without stability, nothing could be done, and even the achievements already made could be lost," he warned.
On its 90th anniversary, Mr. Hu said the CPC had won the support of the Chinese people for its role in securing national independence and for the development the country had achieved in the three decades since the reform and opening up.
But retaining that support, he warned, was no guarantee, cautioning that the party's "survival" rested on tackling rising corruption.
"If not effectively curbed, corruption will cost the Party the trust and support of the people," he said, warning that doing so would require a "complicated and arduous battle". "Leading officials at all levels must bear in mind that our power is entrusted to us by the people and can only be used in their interests," added Mr. Hu, who is also the CPC’s General Secretary and head of its powerful Central Committee.
In the days leading up to July 1, the CPC has grandly celebrated its 90th anniversary, with events and performances being held in every Chinese city and province to mark its founding.
On Friday, Beijing’s streets and parks were turned into a sea of red, with hundreds of banners celebrating the party’s achievements and red flags lining the city’s main avenue. Events were held in the city’s parks to commemorate the Communist revolution, with the signing of Red songs and enactments of Mao Zedong’s Long March.
The party has, in particular, highlighted China’s economic progress over the past three decades, underscoring the message by unveiling landmark infrastructure projects this week. On Thursday, the Chinese government opened a $ 33 billion high-speed rail link between Beijing and Shanghai, as well as inaugurated the world’s longest sea-bridge, which connects the port of Qingdao and Huangdao.
On its anniversary, the party has presented its legacy carefully, focusing on its role in securing national independence and on the economic development that has spurred China’s revival. The CPC’s many failings under Mao Zedong, from the disastrous Great Leap Forward and subsequent famine in 1958, which resulted in the deaths of tens of millions, to the violent Cultural Revolution (1966-76), are off-limt topics amid the celebration.
Mr. Hu on Friday hinted at the troubled first three decades of the party’s rule, saying the party would learn from the positive and negative lessons from its past.
He said the biggest risk the party faced today was "alienation from the people". "Therefore, we must always place the people's interests before everything else," he said. "It has thus become even more important and urgent than ever before for the Party to police itself and impose strict discipline on its members."