Beijing: President Xi Jinping on Friday warned foreign countries against “harming” China’s sovereignty as Beijing braced for a possible adverse verdict by a UN tribunal arbitrating on the Philippines’ petition over the South China Sea dispute.
“No foreign country should expect us to swallow the bitter pill of harm to our national sovereignty, security or development interests,” said Xi, regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader after Mao Zedong, amid a rapturous applause by a large gathering of the ruling Communist Party of China officials to celebrate its 95th anniversary.
Unlike his predecessor, Xi started his 10-year tenure at the helm of the Communist Party in 2013 heading the 88 million-strong party, the military and the presidency making him the strongest leader in the one-party state.
In an apparent reference to US forays into the volatile South China Sea (SCS), Xi said at the glittering function at the Great Hall of People here that “we are not afraid of trouble,” emphasising on the need for a powerful military and a wider role for China in global affairs.
“We will not show up at other people’s front doors to flex our muscles. That does not show strength or scare anyone,” the 63-year-old Xi said taking a dig at the US pivot to Asia policy under which over 60 per cent of the Pentagon’s military assets were expected to be deployed in the Asia Pacific region to blunt Beijing’s growing military might.
His comments came as the tribunal constituted under the UN Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS) arbitrating on the Philippines’ petition against China’s claims on islands and reefs in the SCS is set to deliver the verdict on July 12.
China has boycotted the tribunal and announced that it would not accept the judgement. It also questioned the legality of the tribunal, while officials here stated that the verdict would go against Beijing.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the SCS besides contesting China’s claims of sovereignty over almost all of the contested waterway.
While Xi’s comments made no reference to the US or SCS dispute, China also has a border dispute with India. It also has a maritime dispute with Japan over uninhabited islands.
Xi also commented on the ‘superpower’ status of the US saying that the world order should be decided not by one country or a few, but by broad international agreement.
“It’s for the people of all countries to decide through consultations what international order and global governance systems can benefit the world and people of all nations,” he said.
China will always follow a path of peaceful development and an opening up policy featuring mutual benefit and win-win deals, he said.