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Sunday, 16 April, 2000, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Beijing stresses party role
Falun Gong supporters
Chinese leaders are worried about groups like Falun Gong
By the BBC's Duncan Hewitt in Beijing

The Chinese Government has launched the latest in a series of campaigns aimed at promoting ideological purity.

Known as the Three Representatives, it stresses the importance of the communist party in modernising the nation - and calls for greater study of Marxism.

China's leaders have been shaken by the emergence of spiritual groups like Falun Gong, by public dissatisfaction at corruption and rising welfare costs and by the challenges posed by the spread of the internet.

The Beijing Youth Daily devoted four pages to a recent speech in which President Jiang Zemin argued that the communist party represented advanced production forces, Chinese culture and the basic interests of the people.

Marxist rhetoric

In prose laced with Marxist rhetoric, it hailed the party as the vanguard of the working class and attacked capitalist private ownership.

The article also warned that the party's relationship with the people had been seriously damaged by widespread corruption and said that tackling this was crucial to its survival.

China and internet
The internet has been booming in China
Perhaps significantly, President Jiang's comments were made in southern Guangdong province, laboratory of China's experiments with the market economy.

Analysts say the campaign reflects fear among conservatives that increasing privatisation has eroded support for the party.

The conservative tone may in part simply be designed to maintain the support of such people as China moves towards joining the World Trade Organisation.

Yet it also appears to reflect real fears about the reliability of lower level party members; and it comes after several senior liberal academics were recently removed from their posts.

And with President Jiang warning of the dangers of all-out Westernisation, traditional style politics look set to continue.

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