Beijing | President Xi Jinping today warned foreign countries against harming China’s sovereignty as Beijing braced for a possible adverse verdict by a UN tribunal arbitrating onthe Philippines’ petition over the South China Sea dispute.
No foreign country should expect us to swallow the bitter pill of harm to our national sovereignty, security or development interests, said Xi, regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader after Mao Zedong, amid a rapturous applause by a large gathering of the ruling Communist Party of China officials to celebrate its 95th anniversary.
Unlike his predecessor, Xi started his 10-year tenure at the helm of the Communist Party in 2013 heading the 88 million-strong party, the military and the presidency making him the strongest leader in the one-party state.
In an apparent reference to US forays into the volatile South China Sea (SCS), Xi said at the glittering function at the Great Hall of People here that we are not afraid of trouble, emphasising on the need for a powerful military and a wider role for China in global affairs.
We will not show up at other people’s front doors to flex our muscles. That does not show strength or scare anyone, the 63-year-old Xi said taking a dig at the US pivot to Asia policy under which over 60 per cent of the Pentagon’s military assets were expected to be deployed in the Asia Pacific region to blunt Beijing’s growing military might.
His comments came as the tribunal constituted under the UN Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS) arbitrating on the Philippines’ petition against China’s claims on islands and reefs in the SCS is set to deliver the verdict on July 12. China has boycotted the tribunal and announced that it would not accept the judgement. It also questioned the legality of the tribunal, while officials here stated that the verdict would go against Beijing.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the SCS besides contesting China’s claims of sovereignty over almost all of the contested waterway. While Xi’s comments made no reference to the US or SCS dispute, China also has a border dispute with India. It also has a maritime dispute with Japan over uninhabited islands.
Xi also commented on the ‘superpower’ status of the US saying that the world order should be decided not by one country or a few, but by broad international agreement. It’s for the people of all countries to decide through consultations what international order and global governance systems can benefit the world and people of all nations, he said. China will always follow a path of peaceful development and an opening up policy featuring mutual benefit and win-win deals, he said.
He also spoke China’s development of a more comprehensive model of international cooperation, such as the Belt and Road (Silk Road) initiatives. We are not building our backyard garden, but a public garden for all countries, he claimed. However, China will never give up our lawful rights.
Chinese people do not believe in fallacy and nor are we afraid of evil forces. Chinese people do not make trouble, but we are not cowards when involved in trouble, Xi said. Xi, who is credited with a massive anti-corruption campaign in which thousands of officials in various ranks were punished, cautioned partymen that corruption should be weeded out for the sake of the party’s future.
We must have a staunch will, not let up on our zero tolerance attitude, investigate all cases and punish those who are corrupt, to give corrupt elements no place to hide in the party, he said. Over 2,000 party officials and invitees including military officials packed the Great Hall of the People to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the CPC, regarded among communist parties with the longest reign in power.
Dwelling on CPC’s pursuance of socialism with Chinese characteristics under which China has carried out radical economic reforms discarding the hardline Marxist economic polices pursued by Mao, Xi said the success of the policy should be evaluated not by people with tinted glasses but by the Chinese people based on facts.
Recent reports said there is a rift in the party between reformists and conservatives over the deepening economic reforms to halt China’s economic slowdown. Xi also refuted the perception that CPC cast aside Marxist principles. CPC should adapt Marxist principles to the current realities in China and be innovative both in theory and practice, he said.
Marxism is never the end of truth. It opens a path toward truth. Deviating from or abandoning Marxism, which is the fundamental guiding theory for both the party and the country, our party would lose its soul and direction, he said. Xi said the key to doing things well in China lies in the CPC which currently has more than 88 million members and 4.4 million party organisations.
If we cannot manage the party well and govern the party strictly, leaving prominent problems within the party unsettled, our party will sooner or later lose its qualifications to govern and will unavoidably be consigned to history, he warned.