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New Communist party chief in China denounces corruption

BEIJING — In his first speech to the Chinese Communist Party’s elite Politburo, Xi Jinping, the new party chief, denounced the prevalence of corruption and said officials needed to guard against its spread or it would “doom the party and the state.”

The blunt remarks by Xi were made Saturday at a meeting of the 25-person Politburo, which announced a turnover of 15 members last week during the change in leadership at the close of the 18th Party Congress, the state news media reported Monday. Xi appears to want to take a populist tack in shaping his image and to push an anti-corruption drive as one of the first visible acts in his new post. Corruption is one of the issues of greatest concern to ordinary Chinese.

“In recent years, the long pent-up problems in some countries have led to the venting of public outrage, to social turmoil and to the fall of governments, and corruption and graft have been an important reason,” Xi said, according to a version of the speech posted online. “A mass of facts tells us that if corruption becomes increasingly serious, it will inevitably doom the party and the state. We must be vigilant. In recent years, there have been cases of grave violations of disciplinary rules and laws within the party that have been extremely malign in nature and utterly destructive politically, shocking people to the core.”

—Edward Wong, The New York Times

At judge’s urging, Hostess and union agree to mediation

Pushed by a bankruptcy judge eager to save thousands of jobs, Hostess Brands and one of its biggest unions agreed to mediation Monday, in a last-ditch effort to avoid winding down Hostess, the bankrupt maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread.

At the behest of the judge, Hostess Brands and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union, which represents 5,600 Hostess workers, will meet with a mediator Tuesday to try to narrow their differences and move toward a labor agreement. If the mediation succeeds, it could prevent the liquidation of the company and save 18,500 jobs. Otherwise, Hostess is likely to auction off its well-known brands, leaving the fates of those workers in limbo. In January, Hostess, an 82-year-old company, filed for Chapter 11, just three years after emerging from bankruptcy. At the time, the company said it was unable to pay its debts and needed to make deep cuts in labor costs to survive.

Hostess was able to reach a new contract with the Teamsters, its largest union. But talks between the company and the bakery workers deadlocked, and the union went on strike Nov. 9. With production slowing and its finances dwindling, the company announced plans Friday to liquidate.

—Steven Greenhouse and Michael J. De La Merced,
The New York Times