Corruption warning as China's new leadership steps up

The inside of the Great Hall of the People where the Communist Party holds its summit this week Photo:

More than 2,000 hand-picked delegates of China's Communist Party have gathered in Beijing for a once-in-a-decade handover of power.

The grand event has been choreographed down the smallest detail to give an impression of unity and control.

But there was also a stark warning from the outgoing president Hu Jintao who called for "unremitting efforts" to tackle corruption in the government.

ITV News' China Correspondent Angus Walker reports from Beijing:

Hu acknowledged that public anger over graft and issues like environmental degradation had undermined the party's support and led to surging numbers of protests:

Combating corruption and promoting political integrity, which is a major political issue of great concern to the people, is a clear-cut and long-term political commitment of the party.

If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the party.

– hu juntao, outgoing president of china

Security has been tight in Tiananmen Square outside the Great Hall of the People, where th congress is taking place.

Taxi drivers have even been ordered to remove the window handles from passenger doors in an attempt to prevent anti-government leaflets being strewn across the square.

Security outside the Great Hall in Tiananmen Square has been tight Credit: Reuters

In an indication of what to expect from the new leadership, Hu Jintao promised political reform but only to a degree, saying: "We will never copy a Western political system."

He also stressed the need to strengthen the armed forces and protect sea territory amid disputes with Japan and Southeast Asian nations.

Angus Walker says the party faces the dilemma of how to appear to be tackling corruption within its ranks while not granting freedoms to the press and courts:

The real problem is that if you want to tackle corruption at its root then there have to be political reforms - press freedom, independence for the courts - and those types of reforms, for many hard-liners, would signify the party losing control of the country.

– angus walker, itv news china correspondent
The Old Guard: President Hu and an aide help former President Jiang Zemin to stand up at the start of the congress Credit: REUTERS/Jason Lee

Vice President Xi Jinping is poised to become the next leader of the most populous nation on earth, but the other members of the supreme Standing Committee are largely unknown.

Only Xi and his deputy Li Keqiang are certain to be on what is likely to be a seven-member committee, and about eight other candidates are vying for the other places.