President Xi Jinping on Wednesday assured China’s jittery neighbours that Beijing is ready to resolve its disputes through dialogue but not at the expense of its strategic interests, as he opened a key meeting of the ruling Communist party elite that will boost his grip on power with a second term and even an unprecedented third innings.
Xi, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), called the progress China had made under his watch “truly remarkable,” but told the over 2,000 delegates attending the 19th Party Congress that more needed to be done as the country moves towards a goal of “national rejuvenation”.
“Our party, our people, our forces, and our nation have changed in ways without precedent,” the 64-year-old top leader said from the Great Hall of the People adjoining the Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing on the opening day of the week-long meeting.
He said China will never pursue development at the expense of others, nor will China ever give up its legitimate rights and interests.
“No one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests,” he said amid thumping applause from over 2,300 delegates who attended the meeting telecast live.
About the neighbours, Xi said China would “deepen relations its neighbours in accordance with the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendship and partnership”.
“We should commit to settling disputes through dialogue and resolving differences through discussions, coordinate responses to traditional and non-traditional threats and oppose terrorism in all its forms,” Xi said.
His comments assume significance in the backdrop of the recent military standoff between India and China in Doklam area in the Sikkim sector. China was engaged in a number of maritime disputes with the neighbours in the South and East China seas.
In his address, Xi also vowed make the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) a world class military during his over a three-and-a half hour speech at the once-in-a-five-year Congress which is set to confirm his second term and anoint a new generation of leaders to work with him.