Reuters International

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's influential Communist Youth League has had its budget slashed by more than 50 percent for this year, a state-run newspaper reported on Tuesday, after the organisation came under fire in official media over graft scandals and inefficiency.

The youth league, a stronghold of former president Hu Jintao, is widely seen as a training ground for elite positions within the party, and the cutting of its budget signals a further loss of influence.

Last week, the league said it would carry out reforms including cracking down on corruption and enforcing strict political discipline.

The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the party's official People's Daily, said the league's budget for this year would be 306.27 million yuan (£32.16 million), compared with spending of 624.13 million yuan the previous year.

The league "has been working on a detailed plan for the organisation's reform, which is expected to be released shortly", a league official surnamed Zheng told the newspaper.

The paper said the league has faced public criticism for "being too elitist and inefficient" and pressure has been growing for it to adhere more closely to the party's leadership and operate in a cleaner, more transparent way.

The paper did not say who ordered the budget cut.

President Xi Jinping has launched a widespread campaign against corruption, targeting both high- and low-ranking officials in sectors from the military to state-owned enterprises.

The campaign has also felled many of Xi's political opponents, including Zhou Yongkang, the country's once-powerful domestic security tsar.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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