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‘Unsupervised power is very dangerous’: China’s top graft-buster warns Communist Party’s 80 million members to toe the line

The discipline tsar of China’s Communist Party, who has helped President Xi Jinping purge hundreds of corrupted powerful cadres, published an article in the People’s Daily on Tuesday requiring all 80 million party members to toe the party line.

The rare public article by Wang Qishan, in his capacity as the head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, came as the authorities launched a pilot scheme on setting up new government supervision commissions and days after the party endorsed new house rules governing senior cadres’ political conduct.

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Whether Wang, 68, will stay in the Politburo Standing Committee after a leadership reshuffle conference next year is also one of the biggest guesses in Chinese politics.

A senior Communist Party researcher said publicly last week that there was no age limit for party nominations, defying the existence of an unwritten rule that those aged at or above 68 will be disqualified for next 5-year session of Politburo Standing Committee.

In the article published on the third page of the People’s Daily, Wang called on senior cadres to stay vigilant against those who harbour plots to seize the power of the party and the state.

“The higher one’s position is, the more trust [the Party] bestows on him, so the higher the risk,” Wang wrote. “Absolute power leads to absolute corruption, and thus unsupervised power is extremely dangerous.”

Wang also urged party officials, especially senior ones, to “raise their political awareness” and “stay clean”.

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Political discipline ranked No 1 out of all the party disciplines, Wang wrote, sending a strong message that party members must follow orders from the top rigidly.

“A lot of officials are indifferent and apathetic about that, thinking it does not matter much about breaking political rules as long as they do not take bribes,” Wang wrote.

The article echoed the communiqué of the recently closed sixth plenum of the 18th Party Congress, in which Xi, the party boss, criticised party officials for forming clans within the party and expelling outsiders.

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Former security tsar Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua, an aide to former president Hu Jintao, were mentioned as examples of people that have breached political rules and ganged up for their own interests.

Wang’s commission has become increasingly powerful ever since Xi came to power in 2012 and has waged an unprecedented anti-graft campaign. Scores of provincial and minister level officials have been taken away and some jailed for graft offences.