Xi Jinping warns China will crush ‘any attempt to separate an inch of territory of our great country’ in keynote speech
President sends out strong nationalist message in closing speech to National People’s Congress
President Xi Jinping spoke at the closing of China’s National People’s Congress today.
This year’s NPC carried special meaning for Xi. His status as the most powerful Chinese leader in decades was cemented over the course of the 16-day event.
The constitution was changed to remove presidential term limits – allowing him to stay on as head of state for as long as he sees fit.
The political theories that bear his name were also enshrined in the constitution, giving him the same political status as Mao Zedong and the former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.
He also reshuffled the government and placed his trusted aides, including vice-president Wang Qishan, in key positions concerning the economy, relations with the US and the battle against corruption.
Xi addressed the legislature and the nation as the landmark session closed.
10:05am The end
Xi has finished his speech. Premier Li Keqiang will be holding a press conference at around 10:30 am. Journalists are expected to ask him about China-US trade wars and other issues of concern. The South China Morning Post will be covering it live.
10:02am More Marxism
He now returns to what he describes as the importance of the Communist rule in China by urging people to rally behind the party.
In his closing remarks also says China will continue its campaign to “root out” all corruption and purify the party.
10:00am China’s place in the world
He continues on the theme by setting out his vision for China’s place in the world - highlighting his signature Belt and Road policy.
Xi’s speech has already lasted for half an hour, compared with his 20-minute speech five years ago when he began his first term.
He stresses to other countries.
“Only those who are threats to others will see others as a threat to them,” he says, without specifying which country he is referring to.
9:56am National sovereignty
The nationalist theme continues with comments about Hong Kong and Taiwan and a promise to crush any efforts to “divide the nation”, which is greeted with loud applause.
“Every inch of the territory of our great country cannot be separated from China,” he said.
He emphasises that it will be “impossible” for any parts of China to leave the country, highlighting Beijing’s hardline stance towards any talk of independence for Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Xi makes sure to highlight China’s long-standing cultural history, as the roots for its present and future development. His use of the phrase “great revival of the Chinese nation” has been a slogan closely tied with him since he became president in 2012
He said stresses the role of the Communist party in engaging different sectors of the society.
He also says China will develop into a culturally strong country before highlighting his signature pledges of eradicating poverty and caring for the sick and elderly.
9:41am History and tradition
Xi’s first five years in office have been characterised by a nationalist agenda and in keeping with the theme his speech is full of references to ancient Chinese literature and folklore to support his vision for “great Chinese revival”.
By contrast, five years ago he began his speech by thanking his predecessor Hu Jintao for his 10-year governance
Xi tries to rally the public saying China has “defeated all fierce invaders and defended the freedom of Chinese”.
Xi puts special emphasis on the unity of the country. “A country that is split cannot make great progress,” he says.
9:34 am Stressing the innovative nature of the people
Xi Jinping, known for his nationalism, highlights the importance of Chinese ancient philosophers, and inventions, and ancient literature and architecture.
“I believe, as long as 1.3 billion can keep the great innovative spirit (like in ancient times), we can create miracles one after another.”
9:30 am Xi Jinping begins to address the Legislature
Xi starts his speech by expressing gratitude to the support he received for the second term of his presidency. He stresses he would abide by the constitution.
He then states that all government officials should remember that they should always serve the public and put public interest first.
“People are the real heroes,” he said.