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China's Communist Party turns 86, goes strong
Updated: 2007-07-01 16:26

BEIJING -- China's ruling Communist Party turned 86 on Sunday vowing to make itself stronger, cleaner and more responsive in order to take on fresh challenges and meet the people's new expectations.

The party, which boasts 73 million members, needs to enhance "self-construction" in the face of "unprecedented opportunities and challenges" facing China's development, said an editorial in a Chinese newspaper, the People's Daily.

"We should comprehensively grasp new demands coming up as our country develops and the people have new expectations," said the editorial marking the 86th anniversary of the founding of the party.

About 2.6 million people joined the party in 2006, or 160,000 more than the 2005 figure, a television said. One-third of the new members are women and 80 percent of them aged below 35.

The editorial was in line with a keynote speech by party chief Hu Jintao last Monday, setting the tone for the 17th party congress in the autumn. Hu is expected to unveil his national agenda for the next five years.

Hu's speech elevated his political doctrines -- harmonious society and scientific development -- to the same political status as those of his predecessors.

Hu, who took the party's top job in 2002, pledged cautious reforms to expand citizens' "orderly political participation" but insisted they should adhere to a "correct direction" with the multi-party consultation system under the leadership of the Communist Party.

In the late 1970s, under pragmatic leader Deng Xiaoping, the party embraced market-oriented reforms which transformed China from an economic backwater into a powerhouse, underscoring its own legitimacy.

"A great cause needs a great party, and only a great party can shoulder a great cause," the People's Daily editorial said.

"We should train high-quality leaders, cadres and party members," it said. "The party's creativity, cohesion and combat capability must be unremittingly enhanced."

The editorial echoed Hu's call to deepen intra-party democracy and his emphasis on the battle against graft, which leaders have repeatedly warned threatened the party's survival.

"We should fully understand the long-term, difficult and complex natures of the anti-corruption struggle," the editorial said. "Facing an arduous mission and heavy tasks, all party comrades must think of danger while in times of safety."