China will never seek “aggression or expansion” but will not allow anyone to “split its territory”, President Xi Jinping asserted today as he lauded the Army’s strong resolve to protect the country’s sovereignty and defeat “all invasions” amid territorial disputes with its neighbours.
“No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests,” Xi said as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is engaged in a standoff with Indian troops at Doklam in the Sikkim section since mid-June.
Though there was no direct reference to the Sikkim standoff, Xi urged the PLA to focus on war preparedness to forge an elite and powerful force that is always “ready for the fight, capable of combat and sure to win”.
“There are various means and choices to safeguard peace and security and prevent war, but military means should remain the final guarantee,” he said.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at the ceremony to mark the 90th founding anniversary of the 2.3 million strong PLA, the world’s largest standing army.
He said China would 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.”
“The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions,” Xi, 64, said at the ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People attended by Premier Li Keqiang and other top leaders of the ruling Communist Party and army officials.
This is the second time in three days that Xi spoke of the PLA’s capability to thwart invasions.
On July 30, Xi during a massive PLA parade had said, “I firmly believe that our gallant military has both confidence and ability to defeat all invading enemies”.
His remarks came in the midst of a massive official media campaign and assertion by China’s foreign and defence ministries accusing Indian troops of trespassing into Chinese territory at Doklam.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa NSAs meet here on July 27- 28 also held separate talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.
Both the countries are tight-lipped about the outcome of Doval-Yang talks.
China is also engaged in a number of maritime disputes with its neighbours like Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in the East and South China seas. Beijing also threatens to use force against arch-rival Taiwan if negotiations fail to reunify the island with the mainland.
In his speech today, Xi called for new generation of “capable, brave and virtuous” army “with souls” in order to build a strong military.
He reiterated that the PLA should function under the CPC leadership, highlighting that its sole command is the party leadership not the government like elsewhere in the world.
The PLA should firmly safeguard the CPC’s leadership and the socialist system, protect national sovereignty, security and development interests as well as regional and world peace, he said.
The life of the military personnel lies in combat ability, he said, urging the PLA to strengthen its awareness of being prepared for any eventualities.
“All thoughts must be put on combat, and all work should focus on combat so the military can assemble, charge forward and win any time the party and the people need them to,” he said.
The level of military training should be raised to actual combat standards, he said. The Chinese military which is modernising fast has defence budget of USD 152 billion. China in March hiked military spending by about 7 per cent. China’s announced defence budget remains smaller than that of the US. But many China observers say the real figure could be much higher.
(With inputs from PTI)