President Xi Jinping addressed the nation for the first time since being handed a historic third term as China’s President, urging his nation to be wary of “external forces” that threaten the CCP’s grip over Taiwan.
Xi, who is now the country’s most powerful leader in generations, was reappointed for another five years at the helm of the world’s most populous nation.
The appointment of Li Qiang, a key ally of Xi, as the new Premier was also confirmed at the carefully choreographed conclave of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress.
In his address to the thousands of delegates at Beijing‘s Great Hall of the People, Xi emphasised the need to strengthen national security, stating that “security is the bedrock of development, while stability is a prerequisite for prosperity”.
Xi leant heavily on the idea of “national reunification” and reiterated his party’s desire to oppose “pro-independence” voices in Taiwan.
“We should actively oppose the external forces and secessionist activities of Taiwan independence. We should unswervingly advance the cause of national rejuvenation and reunification,” Xi said
Xi also stressed the importance of promoting the modernisation of national defence and the armed forces, calling for the building of a Great Wall of steel to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests.
In addition, he called for consolidated stability in Hong Kong and unification with Taiwan, which Beijing views as part of its own territory.
Reflecting on his responsibility to the Chinese people, Xi expressed gratitude for the trust bestowed upon him and acknowledged that “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process”.
Xi’s also emphasised his plan to further develop China’s already formidable military, citing pressure from foreign nations.
“The call for a greater focus on science and technology, the claimed pressure from foreign nations that they’re putting on China, the importance of unification of Taiwan and the need to boost China’s armed forces,“ Sky News Asia Correspondent Brent O’Halloran said.
“On that last point, President Xi said that the military must be modernised and turned into a ‘Great Wall of Steel’.”
Xi was unusually blunt earlier this week when he personally accused the US of being behind a campaign to suppress the rise of China.
“Western countries led by the United States have contained and suppressed us in an all-round way, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our development,” he told a group of hand-picked government advisers at an annual legislative session in Beijing.
The next day, his freshly appointed foreign minister took up the message.
“If the United States does not hit the brakes, but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation,” Qin Gang said during a media presentation.
“China may have meddled in Australian politics – and tried to do the same in Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, Canada and other countries during election seasons – but its efforts often have been caught and worked against Beijing,” argues Kurlantzick, author of the new book Beijing’s Global Media Offensive: China’s Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World.
“Its disinformation efforts, though becoming more sophisticated, still remain fairly clumsy in much of the world, compared to those of Russia, for instance.”
Relations with the United States are also at a low not seen in decades, with the powers sparring over everything from human rights to trade and technology.
“We will see a China more assertive on the global stage, insisting its narrative be accepted,” Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute, told AFP.
“But it is also one that will focus on domestically making it less dependent on the rest of the world, and making the Communist Party the centrepiece of governance, rather than the Chinese government,” he said.
“It is not a return to the Maoist era, but one that Maoists will feel comfortable in,” Tsang added.
“Not a direction of travel that is good for the rest of the world.”
— with AFP
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