China loves peace but will never compromise on defending its sovereignty, President Xi Jinping, said on Tuesday while marking 90 years since the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.
China has rattled nerves around Asia and globally with its increasingly assertive stance in territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and an ambitious military modernisation plan.
Relations with self-ruled Taiwan have also worsened since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won presidential elections in 2016.
China considers Taiwan a wayward province, to be brought under Beijing’s control by force if necessary.
Xi, speaking at the Great Hall of the People, made no direct reference to any particular territorial dispute, as he sought to assure that China’s intentions were peaceful, but also show that China would not be bullied.
“The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions,” Xi said in comments carried live on state television.
“We will never allow any people, organisation or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country at any time, in any form,’’ he said.
“No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests.’’
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