China’s Xi Jinping on Monday stressed the need to strengthen national security, in his first speech since being handed a historic third term as the country’s president.
Xi became China’s most powerful leader in generations last week when he was reappointed for another five years at the helm of the world’s most populous nation, in a break with longstanding political precedent.
The National People’s Congress (NPC) — a carefully choreographed conclave of China’s parliament — has also named a key Xi ally, Li Qiang, as the new prime minister.
Xi, 69, thanked thousands of delegates at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday for giving him a third term in office.
“Security is the basis of development, while stability is a precondition for prosperity,” Xi told the assembled delegates at the closing session of the NPC.
“We must fully promote the modernization of national defense and armed forces, and build the people’s armed forces into a Great Wall of steel that effectively protects national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
He also called for consolidated stability in once-troubled Hong Kong and unification with the self-governing island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its own territory.
“The trust of the people is the biggest driving force that pushes me forward, and also a heavy responsibility on my shoulders,” he said.
“The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process.”