BEIJING (BLOOMBERG, XINHUA) - Chinese President Xi Jinping said nothing will come between the Chinese people and the Communist Party that has governed them for more than 70 years, setting a combative tone at a difficult moment in United States-China relations.
Speaking at an event marking the anniversary of China's victory over Japan in World War II, President Xi outlined areas where China will never accept foreign interference. He took aim in particular at threats to the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) continued one-party rule.
"The Chinese people will never allow any individual or any force to separate the CCP and Chinese people, and to pitch them against each other," Mr Xi said.
"The Chinese people will never allow any individual or any force to distort the CCP's history, and to vilify the CCP's character and purpose."
He did not specifically mention the US in his remarks, which focused on rallying his nation. But his comments are likely to be interpreted as a message about the relationship, setting the tone for state media and more junior officials in interactions with the US on everything from trade to technology and the South China Sea.
The tone of the speech, acerbic by the standards of Chinese politics, highlights how seriously China's leaders take the threat of external challenges to their rule.
In recent months, Chinese diplomats have rebuked US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who routinely refers to the CCP, and not China, as a nation in his scathing attacks.
The diplomats also have threatened "consequences" to countries ranging from Norway and the Czech Republic to Britain for perceived provocations.
Chinese leaders have stressed the Communist Party's ability to stand up to foreign aggression since they won control after World War II. As Mr Xi has sought to strengthen his grip at home and confront a more hostile US, he has frequently turned to similar nationalist themes.
On China-Japan ties, Mr Xi said the two countries are close neighbours, and maintaining long-lasting peaceful and friendly relations is in accordance with the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and is essential to maintaining peace and stability in Asia and the world.
At the event, Mr Xi saluted veterans and patriots who fought in the war, as well as Chinese people at home and abroad who made contributions to the final victory.
He also expressed heartfelt appreciation to foreign governments and friends around the world for their support and help for China in the war against Japanese aggression.