Chinese President Xi Jinping. Picture: REUTERS
Chinese President Xi Jinping. Picture: REUTERS

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged members of the ruling Communist Party to act more boldly when necessary, in a sign of frustration over the performance of lower-level officials in the country’s top-down political system. 

“For Communists, Mr Nice Guy is not a really good person,” Xi was quoted in a commentary on Monday in the People’s Daily, the party’s official mouthpiece.

The commentary reads “nice guys” were afraid of offending others and just wanted to protect their own interests, which would in turn hurt the party.

“If you are a good person in the face of negative and corrupt phenomena, you cannot be a good person in front of the party and the people,” Xi said recently at a party training school. “You cannot have both.” 

Xi has consolidated more power in China than any leader since at least Deng Xiaoping, and is expected to secure a third term in office at a party congress next year. While it is not immediately clear what Xi was referring to, the country has recently seen a wide-ranging regulatory crackdown on everything from big technology companies to after-school tutoring, as well as several disasters in which local officials came under scrutiny. 

Last month videos of people trapped in subway cars during the flooding in the central province of Henan were widely circulated in China, prompting outrage. Some 14 people died in the incident, with Premier Li Keqiang visiting the scene and pledging bureaucrats would be held responsible.

Earlier in August, China also punished more than 30 officials nationwide — from mayors and local health directors to the heads of hospitals and airports — over a Covid-19 outbreak that became the nation’s biggest since the one in Wuhan in 2020.

In the September 1 address to young cadres at the Central Party School, Xi said Communists should “never tremble in the face of danger and never be spineless cowards”.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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