Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao
Wen speaks to press in March following the National People's Congress. Reuters

As China continues to struggle through a major political scandal which has led to the purge of Bo Xilai, formerly one of the country's most visible and respected leaders, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao used the opportunity to warn against corrupt behavior within his own government.

With respect to corruption, Wen warned that the situation remained severe.

Wen also cautioned that in spite of recent progress, there remained a large gap between the Communist Party's accomplishments and the expectations of the masses.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

On Monday, an article authored by Wen titled Let Power Be Exercised Under Sunshine, was released by Qiushi Journal, one of country's major Communist Party mouthpieces and a publication of the central committee and the party school.

Wen wrote of the numerous strides and different stages of progress made by the government in combating corruption. but also noted that power in some departments remained overly concentrated and could not be effectively overseen.

Although budgeting, finances, and the accounts of government departments and state owned enterprises were now open to the public, with regards to society and state companies the cases of corruption were steadily increasing.

Wen mentioned that in order to combat graft, the government had already made changes and adjustments to the political system, promoted the rule of law, and ensured greater openness and transparency throughout its various organs. He added that the state has embarked on other more amorphous activities, much harder to quantity and measure, such as improving [the] ethos and culture of government and industries and improving the ethical behavior and thinking of party officials and political leaders.

Wen noted that openness and transparency was a basic criteria for governance and that government administration, including state corporations, should attempt to disclose as much as possible, short of releasing national and industrial secrets.

The Premier hoped that combating corruption would be raised to an even more important position and would be looked on with more urgency by all sectors of government.

Wen's Crusade

Wen's recent writings mirror comments he made on March 26 to a national committee, when he stated that corruption was the greatest danger facing the party.

The premier has made fighting corruption a major component of his ten-year tenure, during which the country has become increasingly more aware of the activities of its own leaders through modern technologies and swift communications, like social media.

His statements have highlighted the difficulty of promoting better governance and developing what the government calls a scientific-democratic decision making system.

Western analysts continue to debate whether Wen speaks broadly for a large liberal-reformist section of the party, or is simply trying to strengthen his own legacy as he prepares to depart government along with other national leaders this year. China is preparing for a major transition of national political leadership this November.

Dr. Jerome Cohen, a professor of law at New York University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Wen's statements on corruption reflect what party leaders consider a life and death struggle.

I think he speaks for many thoughtful [Communist] Party leaders, said Cohen.