President Xi Jinping hailed the success of the Chinese communist system for making the country the second-largest economy in the world. He also sent out a strong message to the “external forces” not to meddle in the internal affairs of China.
Although Xi did not name the US, his remarks were clearly directed at Washington, which has overtly thrown its weight behind Taiwan, helping it militarily and otherwise. China claims the self-ruled island as its territory and has been conducting military exercises in the Taiwan Strait to assert its sovereignty.
Addressing a 70,000 strong crowd at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi said, “Anyone who tries to do so will be crushed to death before the Great Wall of steel built with the flesh and blood of over 1.4 billion Chinese people”.
Alluding to the US’ muscle-flexing in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, Xi said China opposes hegemony and power politics.
Ahead of the Presidential speech, there was a fly-past of helicopters and advanced warplanes, including the J-20 stealth jets.
“The Chinese people have never bullied, oppressed or enslaved the people of other countries,” he said in his hour-long speech, according to Nikkei Asia.
“It has never done so in the past, does not do so now and will never do so in the future. At the same time, the Chinese people will never allow any outside forces to bully, oppress or enslave us. Anyone who tries to do so will be crushed to death before the Great Wall of steel built with the flesh and blood of over 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Xi warned in front of a cheering crowd.
Xi also stressed the modernization of the Chinese military, calling it the only way to protect national security and regional stability.
The statements come at a time when China’s relations with the US are at an all-time low with the countries engaged in confrontations on various issues — ranging from trade and regional security to alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang.
The Taiwan Question
Speaking on Taiwan, President Xi reiterated China’s resolve to achieve reunification with Taiwan, stating, “No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
The statements on Taiwan evoked a strong reaction from Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which firmly resolved to defend its national sovereignty, democracy, and freedom. The people of Taiwan have rejected the CCP’s “One China” policy and the 1922 consensus, a statement released by the Council said.
Experts note that in recent years, Taiwan has emerged as the “most dangerous” flashpoint between China and the US. A major reason has been the growing ties between the US and Taiwan, a point which has annoyed Beijing as it believes that Taiwan has no right to have independent diplomatic relations.
Former Australian Prime Minister told CNBC that the unification of Taiwan remains an “unfinished business” of the CCP. “China could make a move if President Xi Jinping is reappointed as leader of the party and country at a CCP congress late next year,” he said.
Tensions have been running high owing to the repeated aerial incursions by the Chinese military into the Air Identification Zone of Taiwan in the wake of US senators’ visit to Taiwan.
China’s Anger Over QUAD
The US-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or QUAD has been a major friction point between Beijing and Washington. China sees the QUAD bloc — the US, Japan, Australia, and India — as a military alliance, calling it an “Asian NATO”. The US has been advocating freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, which Beijing claims as its territory.
China has in the past accused the QUAD of exaggerating the “China-threat” and disrupting the peace and stability among the regional countries. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian had also urged “certain countries” to shake off their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, hinting at the US’ greater presence in the Indo-Pacific region, reported CGTN.
US Sanctions Against China
Last year, the US Treasury Department blacklisted the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, also known as the XPCC, over alleged human rights abuse against Uyghur minorities in the province.
Then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said, “The Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities rank as the stain of the century”. However, China denies all the allegations and maintains that the alleged detention camps provide vocational training to the Uyghur minorities.
The US has recently highlighted the Xinjiang issue at multiple forums such as the G-7 Summit and the NATO Summit.
Continuing with the policy of his predecessor Donald Trump, President Biden also signed an order amending a ban on US investment in Chinese companies with links to China’s military or surveillance industry, reported Bloomberg. Apart from Huawei Technologies Co., the list also includes China’s largest telecoms, such as China Mobile Communications Group Co., China Unicom Ltd and China Telecommunications Corp.
The China-Japan Tussle
The United States and Japan should cease promoting the so-called Chinese threat theory and instead work toward peace and stability in the region, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on July 1.
Financial Times reported that Japan and the US were conducting military drills in the South China and East China seas amid growing possibility of a military clash with China over Taiwan. According to the newspaper, the US and Japanese armed forces started planning for a possible confrontation during the last year of the Donald Trump administration.
“We note relevant reports. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Chinese government and people’s firm resolve and will to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity will not waver in the face of any external pressure. We hope relevant sides will stop hyping up the ‘China threat’ theory and instead do more things in the interest of regional peace and stability,” Wang said at a press briefing.
On June 24, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby announced the beginning of the annual exercise Orient Shield 21 between Washington and Tokyo, with several thousand troops conducting tactical training and bilateral planning at military facilities across Japan.
Taiwan has been governed independently from mainland China since 1949. Beijing views the island as its province, while Taiwan — a territory with its own democratically elected government — maintains that it is an autonomous country and has political and economic relations with several other nations that recognize its sovereignty. Beijing vociferously denies its independence as it sees itself as the only legitimate political representative of the Chinese people anywhere.
With inputs from Sputnik News