President Xi seeks to turn Chinese army into ‘great wall of steel’

Chinese army

CHINA’S President Xi Jinping says he wants to turn the Chinese military into a “great wall of steel”.

Xi said this while speaking on the last day of this year’s session of the People’s Congress.

“We should comprehensively promote the modernisation of national defence and military construction, and build the people’s army into a great wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security, and development interests,” he said.

The congress this year approved a 7.2 per cent increase in military spending, an uptick proportionately higher than the planned increase in total expenditure.

Elsewhere in his speech the Chinese President addressed Beijing’s plans for “unification” with Taiwan, although he struck a comparatively cautious tone.

He did not repeat earlier statements that Beijing would not rule out the use of military force.

“We should implement the party’s overall strategy for resolving the Taiwan issue in the new era, adhere to the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus.

“We should also actively promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, resolutely oppose the interference of external forces and the secessionist activities of ‘Taiwan independence,”’ he said.

“China should unswervingly push forward the unification process of the motherland,” the leader told the nearly 3,000 delegates in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Self-governing democratic Taiwan, which has never been part of the People’s Republic of China, has had an independent government since 1949, but Beijing considers the island of some 23 million inhabitants a renegade part of its territory.

Following Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, there have been growing concerns that China could also use military force in its longstanding territorial claim to Taiwan. (dpa/NAN)