China’s Xi: Nations should avoid threats of force
QINGDAO, CHINA : The Chinese people love peace and countries should not threaten each other with the use of force, Chinese President Xi Jinping said yesterday as he kicked off a naval parade marking 70 years since the founding of China's navy.
Mr Xi is overseeing a sweeping plan to refurbish the People's Liberation Army by developing everything from jets to aircraft carriers as China ramps up its presence in the disputed South China Sea and around self-ruled Taiwan, which have rattled nerves around the region and in the US.
The navy has been a key beneficiary of the modernisation plan, with China looking to project power far from the country's shores and protect its trading routes and citizens overseas.
Meeting foreign naval officers in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, Mr Xi said the navies of the world should work together to protect maritime peace and order.
"The Chinese people love and long for peace and will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development,"Mr Xi said, in remarks carried by the official Xinhua news agency, after foreign reporters were asked by Mr Xi to leave the room.
"Everyone should respect each other, treat each other as equals, enhance mutual trust, strengthen maritime dialogue and exchanges, and deepen pragmatic cooperation between navies," he added.
"There must be more discussions and consultations between countries, and there cannot be threats of force or use of force at the slightest pretext."
Mr Xi then boarded the destroyer the Xining, commissioned two years ago, to view the parade under misty skies and intermittent rain, state television reported.
China's first domestically-produced aircraft carrier, which is still unnamed and undergoing sea trials, was not present, though another carrier, the Liaoning was. The Liaoning, China's first carrier, was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China. - REUTERS