Chinese President Xi Jinping declared Sunday a new effort to accelerate the growth and capability of the Communist country’s military while vowing to oppose the drive for “separatism” and independence in neighboring Taiwan by force if necessary.
Xi’s fiery speech at the opening of the 20th congress of China’s Communist Party also defended his widely unpopular “zero COVID” policy of lockdowns and included a promise to fight poverty through job creation and “common prosperity” policies.
But his most closely watched k raised the temperature inside China and the larger Pacific region the last few months.
Xi dismissed the U.S. activities as “serious provocations” while reiterating a commitment to reunifying the breakaway island with mainland China.
“In the face of serious provocations from separatist activities by Taiwan independence forces and interference in Taiwan affairs by external forces, we have resolutely waged a major struggle against separatism and interference, demonstrating our strong determination and ability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity and oppose Taiwan independence,” Xi said, according to Reuters.
He added, “We persist in striving for the prospect of peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity. However, there is no commitment to renounce the use of force and the option to take all necessary measures is retained.”
Xi also laid out plans for accelerating China’s already rapidly expanding People’s Liberation Army.
“We will work faster to modernize military theory, personnel and weapons,” Xi said, according to The Associated Press. “We will enhance the military’s strategic capabilities.”