China's head of state and party leader Xi Jinping wants to turn the Chinese military into a "Great Wall of Steel". In a speech at the end of the annual session of the People's Congress in Beijing on Monday, the President said that the modernization of the People's Liberation Army should be promoted "in order to effectively safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests".
Against the background of tensions with the US, the People's Congress had previously approved a sharp increase in defense spending this year by 7.2 percent.
Xi Jinping called for "reunification" with Taiwan. Relations should be developed "peacefully," but "outside interference" and "splittist activities" by Taiwanese independence forces must be resolutely rejected, Xi Jinping said in his speech to nearly 3,000 delegates in the Great Hall of the People. The unification process must be pushed "unshakeably".
Tensions around Taiwan
This time, however, Xi Jinping did not repeat earlier statements that Beijing would not rule out the use of military force if other efforts were unsuccessful. Tensions around Taiwan had recently increased, but the president seemed comparatively cautious in his comments on Taiwan.
The communist leadership regards the island's democratic republic as part of the People's Republic founded in 1949, although Taiwan has never been part of it. Taiwan, which has a population of 23 million, has long considered itself independent. After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, international concerns grew that China could take similar action against Taiwan.
In this case, the USA would also be drawn further into the conflict because it has been committed to Taiwan's ability to defend itself since 1979. So far, this has mostly meant arms deliveries, but US President Joe Biden had gone further than his predecessors and had even promised support from US armed forces.