Senior officials at the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party in Beijing last year. Photo: Reuters / Damir Sagolj

China would never become a military power or pursue military expansion, regardless of its economic size, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party, claimed on Wednesday.

“We pursue an independent foreign policy of peace, respect the individual choices of different countries and help preserve world peace and justice,” Xi said in an opening speech of the 19th Party Congress.

“We oppose the behavior of forcefully putting a will on others, intervening other countries’ domestic affairs and oppressing the weak,” he said. “China will develop itself by sacrificing other countries’ benefit or giving up its rights.”

China would pursue a national defense policy that was defensive in nature, he said.

To protect its national security, China would continue to suppress infiltrative, subversive and splittist activities while fighting against terrorists, national separatists and extreme religions, he said. The country would promote public education so that all the people in the country would jointly help to safeguard national security.

“The party has absolute power on the people’s army,” Xi said.

China would continue to increase the quality and efficiency of its army in order to achieve basic automation by 2020, he said. It would upgrade its army and weapons to achieve a basic modernization of its national defense and army by 2035.

By the middle of this century, the People’s Liberation Army of China would become a leading army in the world, he said.

“The army has to prepare for war. All effort must focus on how to take and win battles,” Xi said. The Chinese army should have the ability to manage crises, stop wars and win battles, he said.

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