China’s President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “has the confidence to defeat all invasions”, as the army marked its 90th anniversary on Tuesday.
“We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions,” Xi said at a ceremony to mark the PLA’s 90th anniversary in Beijing.
He added that China “will never allow any people, organisation or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country at any time, in any form.”
Chinese analysts have noted that the PLA’s celebrations – and recent muscle-flexing through several exercises – comes amid both the stand-off with India in Doklam in the India-China-Bhutan trijunction, and China’s rising concerns over tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
Xi did not mention any specific territorial dispute. Chinese leaders have in the past referred to “invasions” in the context of China’s history and occupation by Japan.
On Tuesday, Xi said “no one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests,” indicating that China would respond strongly.
The President, who also heads the Central Military Commission, said China “will never compromise” on its sovereignty, security or development interests.
On Sunday, Xi presided over a rare Army Day parade in Zhurihe, a sprawling base that is Asia’s largest in China’s Inner Mongolia region.