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When Xi Jinping served as Party secretary of Ningde prefecture in Fujian province nearly 30 years ago, he launched a massive anti-graft campaign to punish numerous officials who broke the rules to build their private houses, according to an article in People"s Daily.
Zhang Mingqing, a former People"s Daily journalist who covered the anti-graft campaign launched by Xi in Ningde, recalled some details in a story published by the newspaper on Friday.
In June 1988, Xi became Party secretary of Ningde from his former post as executive vice-mayor of coastal Xiamen, and he immediately found that many officials in the impoverished prefecture had violated discipline and laws to build private houses on illegally occupied land.
Due to a lack of supervision, some officials even embezzled the government"s education, poverty reduction and disaster relief funds to build their houses, and many recruited workers without payment to build the houses.
Zhang, the People"s Daily journalist, said that when he arrived in Ningde for the interview in May 1990, Xi came to his hotel and talked with him about fighting corruption.
In Friday"s story, Zhang recalled Xi saying, "If our Communist leaders could not set an example of being diligent and boosting clean governance, how could we win the trust of the people?"
Xi decided to change the situation, and, in January 1989, he introduced his plan to punish those who illegally occupied land, but some anti-graft officials dared not offend the others, according to a news report published in May 1990.
Xi encouraged the prefecture"s disciplinary staff to fight corruption with determination.
"We have to admit the fact that the number of officials who built houses on occupied land is big, but the number is not big compared with the total number of officials, and it is even smaller compared with the 2 million people of the prefecture－just one out of 300," Xi said at the meeting.
Through occupying land illegally, those officials ruined the Party"s image and offended the Party, the people, discipline and the law, and they deserved punishment, Xi said.
The disciplinary staff eventually punished 7,392 officials who illegally occupied land to build houses in the prefecture.
To boost transparency, Xi also required county governments to thoroughly check and register land occupation activities in the prefecture, and such information was publicized.
Xi"s measures effectively stopped the illegal occupation of land, and such efforts won support from the local people, said the 1990 report.