World

Xi warns that China will protect its sovereignty

BEIJING: China will fiercely protect its sovereignty against "any people, organisation or political party", President Xi Jinping warned yesterday, as the country celebrated the 90th anniversary of its military, the People's Liberation Army.

The message comes as the ruling Communist Party faces political resistance in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, where many locals fear that Beijing is tightening its grip, and in self-ruled Taiwan, which China views as a rebel province awaiting reunification.

China is also mired in several border disputes with its neighbours, including a stand-off with India over territory on China's border with Bhutan.

"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.

"No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests," Mr Xi told an audience of Communist Party officials and army officials gathered at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Since coming into office in 2012, Mr Xi has centralised power and cracked down on critics of the ruling party while taking a hard line on territorial disputes. China has at the same time been engaged in a modernisation of the armed forces, as it seeks military clout commensurate with its economic might.

While it formerly followed a strategy of "hide your strength", it has begun to indulge in more frequent and pointed demonstrations of its power.

On Sunday, it held a rare military parade in Inner Mongolia, in which Mr Xi stressed the need to build a loyal army capable of "defeating all invading enemies".

In June in Hong Kong, Mr Xi oversaw a military parade - the largest in decades - marking the 20th anniversary of the former British colony's handover to China.

In December last year, China sailed its first aircraft carrier near Taiwan, where the ruling political party has angered Beijing by refusing to acknowledge that both sides are part of "one China".

The ship was on its way to the South China Sea, where Beijing has pursued claims on territory - despite partial counter-claims from nations such as the Philippines and Vietnam - by building military facilities and conducting naval exercises. 
- AFP

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