China will not cede a “single inch of land” and is ready to wage a “bloody battle” to take its due place in the world, a belligerent President Xi Jinping, now enjoying probably a life-long tenure, asserted on Tuesday. In a 30-minute long nationalistic speech in China’s Parliament, Xi said “since modern times, rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation has become the biggest dream of our nation”.
“The Chinese people and the Chinese nation have a shared conviction which is not a single inch of our land will be and can be ceded from China” Xi said, addressing the closing session of the NPC the first by a President in recent years. Though Xi made no mention of any territorial issues, the country has been involved in a number of disputes.
Besides the border dispute with India, China claims rights over the disputed islands in East China Sea under the control of Japan and vast stretches of the South China Sea (SCS) where it is firmly asserting its control.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the South China Sea. Xi said China has all the capabilities to take its due place in the world.
Every year, Chinese annual parliament season ends with a press conference by the Premier. This is the first-time a President addressed its valedictory session.
Xi this month has altered the course of the history of China after the NPC besides re-electing him for a second five-year term also ratified a constitutional amendment scrapping the decades old two-term limit paving the way him to remain in power for life.
He has emerged as the most powerful leader after Mao Zedong as he headed the ruling Communist Party of China, (CPC), the military and the Presidency.
Seeking to allay fears about absolute powers enjoyed by him controlling all levers of power, Xi vowed to continue to serve as a servant of the people. “The Chinese people has been indomitable and persistent. We are resolved to fight the bloody battle against our enemies and on the basis of independence we are determined to recapture the relics,” he said.
“We have strong capabilities of taking our due place in the world. We have fought for that big dream for about 170 years. Today more than ever the Chinese people are close to that dream, ever more confident and capable of realising the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” he said.
“I am convinced once the 1.3 billion Chinese people carrying on such big dreams we will certainly translate into a reality,” he said amid thunderous applauds in a nationally televised speech.
“We should safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and achieve full unification of the motherland. This is the aspiration of all Chinese people. This is also in line with fundamental of the Chinese nation,” Xi said in an apparent reference to Taiwan which China claims as part of it.
In his speech, Xi also delivered a stern message to the separatists. “Faced with this important question of our nation and history any action that separates the country is doomed to fail. These separatist actions will be met with the condemnation of the people and punishment of the history,” he said.
“Chinese people have strong determination, full confidence and every capability to triumph over all the separatist actions,” he said.
Besides Taiwan, China brands the Dalai Lama as “splitist”. China is also carrying out extensive crackdown in the Muslim Uygur majority Xinjiang against the separatist group East Turkistan Islamic Movement, (ETIM). Xi said any actions and tricks to split China are certain to meet with the people’s condemnation and the punishment.
At the same time, he also sought to allay the concerns of the world about rising China as well as his multibillion dollar pet project the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying that China’s development does not pose a threat to any other country “China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion. Only those who are accustomed to threatening others see everyone as a threat,” he said, taking a dig at the US.
“We will not impose our will on other people and China will continue to advance its BRI and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with other countries in the world so that reforming and opening of China will benefit all mankind,” Xi said.
The BRI has special implications for India as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is part of it. India has protested to China over the CPEC as it traverses through Pakistan occupied Kashmir.