Xi: China will never per­mit loss of ‘any piece’ of land

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is­sued a tough line on na­tional sovereignty yes­ter­day amid mul­ti­ple ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes with his coun­try’s neigh­bors, say­ing China will never per­mit the loss of “any piece” of its land to out­siders. Xi’s dec­la­ra­tion came dur­ing a nearly one-hour speech in Bei­jing mark­ing the 90th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, which has formed a key pil­lar of sup­port for the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party since 1927 and is the world’s largest stand­ing mil­i­tary, with 2.3 mil­lion mem­bers.

“The Chi­nese peo­ple trea­sure peace and we ab­so­lutely do not en­gage in in­va­sion and ex­pan­sion. How­ever, we have the con­fi­dence to conquer all forms of in­va­sion,” Xi told gov­ern­ment lead­ers and cur­rent and re­tired PLA mem­bers gath­ered at the hulk­ing Great Hall of the Peo­ple, the seat of the leg­is­la­ture that sits be­side Tianan­men Square.

“We ab­so­lutely will not per­mit any per­son, any or­ga­ni­za­tion, any po­lit­i­cal party - at any time, in any form - to sep­a­rate any piece of Chi­nese ter­ri­tory from China,” Xi said to ap­plause. “No one should ex­pect us to swallow the bit­ter fruit of dam­age to our sovereignty, se­cu­rity and development in­ter­ests.” Xi made no ref­er­ence to any spe­cific con­flicts or dis­putes dur­ing his ad­dress, which fo­cused largely on the PLA’s growth from a scrappy guer­rilla force fight­ing Chi­ang Kai-shek’s Na­tion­al­ists and Ja­panese in­vaders into one of the world’s most pow­er­ful, if largely untested, mil­i­taries.

How­ever, China is cur­rently en­gaged in a weeks-long border stand­off with In­dian forces near the coun­tries’ dis­puted border high in the Hi­malayas, with Chi­nese spokes­men de­mand­ing that In­dian troops with­draw to avoid a clash po­ten­tially worse than the brief but bloody war the two fought in the re­gion in 1962. China has also long been em­broiled in a con­test with Ja­pan over East China Sea is­lands, as well as with five other gov­ern­ments over com­pet­ing claims to ter­ri­tory in the strate­gi­cally vi­tal South China Sea. Bei­jing also threat­ens to use force to conquer Tai­wan if peace­ful en­tice­ments prove in­suf­fi­cient. China con­sid­ers the self-gov­ern­ing demo­cratic is­land Chi­nese ter­ri­tory.

In his speech, Xi also em­pha­sized that the mil­i­tary’s high­est loy­alty is to the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party, un­der­scor­ing the PLA’s key role as regime pre­server through crises such as the bloody sup­pres­sion of 1989 pro-democ­racy protests at Tianan­men Square. Top Chi­nese lead­ers have con­sis­tently re­jected calls to make the PLA loyal to the gov­ern­ment and peo­ple in­stead. “The peo­ple’s army will res­o­lutely safe­guard the lead­er­ship of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party and our coun­try’s so­cial­ist sys­tem, res­o­lutely safe­guard na­tional sovereignty, se­cu­rity and development in­ter­ests, and res­o­lutely safe­guard re­gional and world peace,” Xi said. The speech fol­lowed a pa­rade Sun­day at a train­ing ground on the edge of the Gobi Desert dur­ing which Xi donned fa­tigues and de­clared that the mil­i­tary has the “con­fi­dence and ca­pa­bil­ity” to en­sure China’s sovereignty, se­cu­rity and na­tional in­ter­ests. Xi, who com­mands the PLA as chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, has fre­quently spo­ken of his “China Dream” to re­store China to a lead­er­ship po­si­tion in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs with a mod­ern, far-reach­ing mil­i­tary force to match. The pa­rade at the Zhurihe base in In­ner Mon­go­lia fea­tured troops and ad­vanced weaponry, and was an­other force­ful in­di­ca­tion of Xi’s iron grip over the PLA and ev­ery other po­lit­i­cal power base within the party ahead of a piv­otal con­gress this au­tumn that will award him a sec­ond five-year term as leader.

That fol­lowed sim­i­larly high-pro­file mil­i­tary re­views in Bei­jing in 2015 and Hong Kong in June. Last week, Xi be­stowed newly cre­ated “Aug. 1” hon­ors on ser­vice­men in a fur­ther el­e­va­tion of the armed forces’ stature. Xi and his pre­de­ces­sors en­gi­neered a rad­i­cal up­grad­ing of the PLA’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties through years of dou­ble-digit per­cent­age in­creases in the de­fense bud­get, mak­ing China the world’s sec­ond-largest mil­i­tary spender after the United States, al­though growth has slowed along­side a cool­ing of the over­all econ­omy. — AP

BEI­JING: Chi­nese para­mil­i­tary po­lice­men march out­side the Great Hall of the Peo­ple after at­tend­ing a cer­e­mony to com­mem­o­rate the 90th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army. — AP

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