NPC 2018: China is no threat to other countries, says Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) stands after delivering a speech as other delegates applaud him during the closing of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on March 20, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING - President Xi Jinping reiterated that China's development is no threat to other nations even as the United States has called it a "main threat".

Mr Xi also warned against any move to split Taiwan from the motherland at a time when the US appears to want to use the self-ruling island as a chip in its rivalry with China.

US President Donald Trump last week signed into law the Taiwan Travel Act allowing high-level official exchanges between the US and Taiwan despite not having diplomatic ties with the island and espousing a "one China" policy that acknowledges that Beijing is the sole legal government of China.

Speaking at the close of the annual session of the National People's Congress on Tuesday (March 20), Mr Xi, who was given a second five-year term over the weekend, also stressed the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over all aspects of the Chinese society.

"China will never develop itself at the expense of the interests of other countries," he said.

"China's development will not pose a threat to any country... China will never seek hegemony and never engage in expansion," he added.

Instead, it will "continue to actively participate in the reform and construction of global governance, and contribute more Chinese wisdom, plans and strength to the world, to promote lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity and an open, tolerant, clean and beautiful world", he said.

His remarks, which echoed those in his speech at the CCP's 19th national congress last October, come at a time when the US, in its national security strategy published late last year, took a hawkish stance towards China.

The report called China a strategic competitor seeking to "displace the US in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reach of its state-driven economic model and reorder the region in its favour". The US has also revived a security dialogue with India, Australia and Japan.

Elsewhere, there has been what has been described as China's use of sharp power to influence the world. This came into focus in recent months with Australia recently proposing a law to crack down on foreign interference in its political activity after reports of Chinese influence in its politics.

On the domestic front, Mr Xi in his speech also reiterated that the CCP is the leader of "everything" in China.

"The leadership of the CCP is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics," he said, echoing the line that was written into China's Constitution during this parliamentary session.

Mr Xi, who has amassed immense power in the five years since taking over the reins of the party in 2012, has also sought to strengthen the party's domination of different aspects of Chinese society.

This can be seen not only in the constitutional change but also in the reorganisation of the State Council or Cabinet which saw the creation of the National Supervisory Commission that combines the party and state anti-corruption apparatuses.

In his speech at the start of his second term, with the prospect of more after a constitutional change last week removed term limits for the presidency, Mr Xi displayed some humility. He said he would "be the people's servant, accept supervision from the people and never fail to live up to the trust" of the people.

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