In a rare outburst, Guangdong Party chief Wang Yang publicly criticized provincial officials for failing to meet the challenges of the current economic crisis, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an article in the Guangzhou Daily. Wang lambasted officials for corruption, excessive red tape and distancing themselves from the masses. Wang said that only a marked improvement in the quality of public service and in the conduct of public servants could restore confidence and save Guangdong’s economy from sinking further. "It will be too late to repent if we lose our ruling status," Wang said. Wang has previously exhorted cadres to "liberate their minds" and be more innovative and less greedy. Provincial party discipline chief Zhu Mingguo said severe penalties would be imposed for excessive spending by public officials. Last year approximately 384 cadres in Guangzhou were charged with corruption.