BEIJING (Reuters) - China's campaign against graft has hit a deadlock because of resistance from an "army of corruption" and the destiny of the Communist Party is at stake, President Xi Jinping said in a speech to party officials, according to a state newspaper.
As part of his vision for a rejuvenated China, Xi is preaching a return to the austerity of the Communist Party's early years. A sweeping attack on corruption is at the core of the campaign.
The report in the Changbaishan Daily, an obscure party newspaper in a small city in northeast China, came less than a week after the party announced an investigation into former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, one of the country's most influential politicians of the last decade, in a case that has its roots in a party power struggle.
It is unclear when Xi made the speech to party officials, but the Changbaishan Daily said the details of his remarks were revealed to party officials there in a meeting on Friday.
"The two armies of corruption and anti-corruption are in confrontation, and a 'deadlock' has appeared," a party official said on Friday quoting Xi, according to the newspaper which revealed his comments on Monday.
Details of the speech were widely carried by major Chinese news portals on Tuesday.
Xi has pledged to go after "tigers and flies" in rooting out wrongdoing and has warned that popular disillusionment with rampant official graft threatens the Party's hold on power.
"To fight against corruption, a person's life and death, personal praise or blame, do not matter," Xi said in the speech.
"Since the future and destiny of the party and the country have been handed to us, we must take on this responsibility."
Wang Qishan, secretary of the party's anti-corruption watchdog, had also urged officials to fall in line with the central leadership in fighting graft, saying it was "a question of stance, and attitude", the newspaper said.
An article published this month by the People's Forum, a magazine under the party mouthpiece People's Daily newspaper, warned against backlashes against the corruption crackdown.
To protect vested interests, corrupt officials would fight back against the campaign, seek protection from higher-up to obstruct investigations, and strike against those comrades who insist on fighting graft, the magazine said.
"As the 'fighting of tigers' intensifies, corrupt elements definitely will not sit and await their doom," said the magazine.
In a separate announcement on Tuesday, the party expelled Yao Mugen, a former vice governor of the eastern Jiangxi province for accepting "a huge amount of bribes". The top prosecutor said that it has opened a criminal investigation into Yao.
(Reporting by Li Hui and Megha Rajagopalan; Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Robert Birsel)