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China's President Xi Jinping arrives for a meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at Miraflores Palace in Caracas July 20, 2014. REUTERS/Jorge Silva(reuters_tickers)
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party will step up ideological education of officials to prevent them from aping Western moral standards and strengthen their faith in communism to help in the fight against pervasive corruption, state media said.
"Profound social-economic changes at home and abroad have brought multiple distractions to officials who face loss of faith and moral decline," the official Xinhua news agency cited a statement from the party's powerful Organisation Department, which oversees personnel decisions.
"The conviction and morals of officials determine the rise and fall of the Communist Party and the country," Xinhua added, in a report late on Sunday.
"Officials should keep firm belief in Marxism to avoid being lost in the clamour for western democracy, universal values and civil society," it said.
The party has warned repeatedly that its members should not be lead astray by Western concepts of human rights and democracy, saying that China has the right to promote its own interpretation of such ideas to better suit its national condition and level of economic development.
President Xi Jinping has mounted a sweeping campaign against deeply-rooted corruption since assuming office last year, warning, like others before him, that the party's rule could be threatened if it does not stop the rot from graft.
The party has sought to curtail everything from bribery and gift-giving to lavish banquets to assuage public anger over graft and extravagance, and state media has published lurid accounts of officials with multiple mistresses and illegally amassed wealth.
However, the party has shown no sign of wanting to set up an independent body to fight graft, and Xi has also overseen a tough crackdown on those who seek to challenge the party's right to govern or push for more freedoms.
Xinhua said that party officials would have to receive education that "strengthens their political, ideological and emotional identity in socialism with Chinese characteristics".
Officials will have to be "noble, pure and virtuous persons who have relinquished vulgar tastes", it added.
"Chinese officials should safeguard the spiritual independence of the nation and avoid becoming an echo of western moral values," Xinhua said.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard)