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"Power should be exercised within the cage of regulations," Xi said on Tuesday at a meeting of the Party's top anti-corruption body.
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, delivers a speech during a CPC disciplinary watchdog meeting in Beijing, Jan 22, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]
The Party should earn the public's trust with concrete results and "fight corruption at every level, punish every corrupt official, and eradicate the soil that breeds corruption", Xi said at a plenary meeting of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China.
Officials should keep in close touch with the public, listen to public opinion and turn their backs on privilege and displays of ostentation, Xi said.
Quoting an example from the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), Xi said that officials should learn lessons from history. The Qin Dynasty was overthrown because the people rejected unpopular policies, including high taxes and extravagance at public expense.
Xi stressed that it was just as important to go after the "flies", or low-ranking officials, as it was to tackle the "tigers", or top officials in the battle against graft.
Zhao Hongzhu, deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, said that Xi's speech laid the basis for the Party's anti-graft drive over the next five years.
"The general secretary gets directly to the point in his speech," Zhao said at a group discussion.
Han Henglin, an official from the commission, said that the Party should try harder to win public trust.
"A recent report shows that the public's trust in the Party and the government has fallen to a critical level,'' he said.
Han said he had read The Old Regime and the Revolution, by Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59), a book recommended by commission secretary Wang Qishan. The book analyzes French society before the revolution of 1789.
"The book showed that the revolution was caused by a collapse of public trust.''
This culminated in the famous storming of the Bastille prison.
"When the government claimed that there were no political criminals in the Bastille, the people didn't believe them. But after the people stormed the prison, they found that actually there were no political criminals," he said. "The government had told too many lies and when it eventually told the truth, the people didn't believe them."
Xi also urged authorities to implement the "eight-point" code to improve their work.
The code, issued on Dec 4 by the Party's Central Committee, stressed the importance of getting rid of pomp and ceremony.
The discipline commission's session used to last two and a half days but was shortened to two days this year in response to the code, said Huang Xianyao, secretary of the Guangdong Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC.
A speech by Wang Qishan on Monday morning was cut from 12,000 words to 6,000, Huang said.
Yang Yajie, head of the supervision department of Jilin province, said that he had to buy a notebook outside the hotel as no free notebooks were available at the session. "I am sorry for not bringing my own notebook," he said during a group discussion.
Yang said he drank less at a government banquet recently after the new leadership expressed opposition to lavish banquets.
It's the first time that the commission's session used videophone technology.
"In the past, it needed time to transmit the content of the conference to the provincial authorities. Videophones have saved both time and cost,'' said Nie Yifeng, a publicity official from the commission.