BEIJING - While stressing that China loves peace, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday (Aug 1) made clear that his country will not allow anyone to threaten it sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Mr Xi also emphasised the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party over the military in a speech at a ceremony to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
“The Chinese people love peace, we will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions,” said Mr Xi.
However, he added: “ We will never allow any people, organization or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country at any time, in any form.
“No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests.”
While Mr Xi did not specify any group in his speech, Defence Minister Chang Wanquan on Monday made reference to the Taiwan situation and said the PLA is “confident, capable and fully prepared to resolutely safeguard State sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Mr Chang was speaking at a banquet to celebrate the anniversary.
Cross-strait tension has risen since Ms Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, won the Taiwanese presidential election in 2016.
She has failed to acknowledge the 1992 consensus that both China and Taiwan belong to one China, with each side having a different interpretation of what this meant. This consensus was the basis of the eight years of relatively stable and warm cross-strait ties under her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou.
China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province to be united with the motherland.
Beijing also faces a new separatist movement in Hong Kong after the failure of the Occupy protests in 2014 to push for greater democratic freedoms. There is also an ongoing standoff between Chinese and Indian troops in the Doklam plateau on China's borders with India and Bhutan.
Mr Xi in his speech on Aug 1 also stressed the leadership of the CCP over the PLA.
He invoked communist China’s founding father Mao Zedong’s words, saying: “Comrade Mao once pointed out: our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party’.”
In recent times, this exhortation has become more important as the party’s new leaders no longer have the wartime credentials of the party’s founders who fought the revolution alongside the military.
Mr Xi also stressed the need for a strong and modern army in order for China to realise its dream of rejuvenation.
The PLA has been undergoing reform and modernisation in the past five years since Mr Xi came to power.
On Sunday, the PLA held a military parade at its largest training base in Zhurihe, Inner Mongolia, that stressed the combat readiness of the military and displayed its latest, state-of-the-art weaponry.