Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, addresses a grand gathering in celebration of the 90th founding anniversary of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 1, 2017. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
China must step up transforming its armed forces into a world-class military that is ready to fight and win wars as the country will never compromise on defending sovereignty, President Xi Jinping said Tuesday at an Army Day celebration.
"No one should expect us to swallow bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests," said Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), during a speech at a ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
While hailing the PLA's great achievements over the nine decades, Xi said the Chinese military has reshaped its political environment, organizational form, system of military strength and work style over the past five years.
The PLA should firmly safeguard the CPC's leadership and the socialist system, protect national sovereignty, security and development interests as well as regional and world peace, Xi told senior officials and military personnel gathered at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
"The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions. We will never allow any people, organization or political party to split any part of Chinese territory from the country at any time, in any form," Xi said.
The ceremony was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang and also attended by Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli, all members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
Xi's speech came two days after China held a massive military parade involving more than 12,000 service personnel at the Zhurihe military training base in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
"Today, we are closer to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation than any other time in history, and we need to build a strong people's military now more than any other time in history," Xi said in Sunday's speech.
GLORY & TRADITION
The PLA has come a long way since its birth at the Nanchang Uprising on August 1, 1927. Today, the PLA commands about two million service personnel.
Xi told Tuesday's gathering that the armed forces had transformed from a "millet plus rifles" single-service force, one with only the most basic of supplies and equipment required to survive, into one that has fully-fledged services. The PLA has basically completed mechanization and is moving rapidly toward "strong" informationized armed forces, he said.
Xi attributed the PLA's success to its glorious traditions and fine conduct under the leadership of the CPC.
"The armed forces must follow the banner, the direction and the will of the Party at all times and under any circumstances." Xi noted, saying that the principle is an irreversible truth that the CPC has attained in struggles of blood and fire.
Behind the PLA's glorious victories are also ideals and beliefs, as well as the reform determination, Xi said.
"Only by continuous reform and innovation, can the people's army constantly gain development vitality and put itself in an impregnable position," Xi said.
The PLA must be bold in reform and adept in innovation while staying away from rigidity and stagnation, he said.
The president also stressed the role of fighting spirit, revolutionary discipline and civilian-military unity in claiming victories.
As long as the armed forces stand with and win the support of the people, a "wall of iron" can be fortified, Xi said.