China must defeat ‘all enemies that dare to offend’, President Xi tells troops at military parade
Chinese leader says armed forces must also be ‘unswervingly loyal’ to the ruling Communist Party
Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered troops to prepare for battle and defeat “all enemies that dare to offend” their country as he presided over an unprecedented “combat style” military parade on Sunday.
The event, at the Zhurihe Combined Tactics Training Base, was the first ever to be held to mark the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.
The huge display of military hardware – about 40 per cent of the weapons on show had never before been seen by the public – Xi, as commander-in-chief of the world’s largest army, inspected 12,000 combat troops and told them to “be ready to assemble at the first call and be capable of fighting and winning any battle”.
The parade was held as China remains locked in a border stand-off with India and amid an escalating crisis involving its wayward neighbour North Korea’s nuclear programme.
Xi didn’t specify any target, but China’s defence ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said in a statement that the parade was not targeted at China’s “surrounding situation”, but was in accordance with the yearly training schedule.
Xi said in his speech that China’s armed forces should be “unswervingly loyal” to the ruling Communist Party, of which he is general secretary, and core of the ruling elite.
“You shall be unswervingly loyal to the absolute leadership that the party has over the army, heed the call of the party, follow the party,” Xi said after inspecting the troops.
“You shall extend the battleground to wherever the party points towards.”
The parade at Zhurihe – China’s largest and most advanced military base, likened to the Fort Irwin National Training Centre in the US – differed from previous events in its heavy emphasis on combat and field operations, Beijing-based military commentator Zhao Xiaozhuo said on state television.
Xi wore a camouflage uniform and all of the participating soldiers wore battledress.
“The world under heaven is not at peace, and peace needs safeguarding,” Xi said.
“I firmly believe that our heroic army has the confidence and capability to defeat all enemies who dare to offend [China],” he said.
Xi has been accelerating the modernization of China’s land, maritime, air and missile forces since taking power five years ago.
“We are closer than at any time in history to realising China’s great dream of national revitalisation, and building a strong people’s army,” he said, reiterating his call for the country to have a “world-class army”.