China's Xi Jinping asserts territorial integrity amid regional tensions

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China displays its military might

Marking the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, China's president has vowed to "defeat all invasions." Xi also pledged to expand an ambitious modernization program of the military.

China will never allow its sovereignty to be compromised, said Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday during a ceremony marking the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army.

"The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions," Xi said.

Beijing has raised tensions in the region with its increasingly assertive stance in territorial disputes. In the South China Sea, it has built military facilities on artificial islands and taken control of territorial waters claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei.

Relations between Beijing and Taiwan in particular have soured over the past year after the self-ruled island elected President Tsai Ing-wen from a pro-independence party. His nationalist predecessor had pursued a China-friendly course. Now, Taipei has rebuffed the "one China policy" that governed relations since the early 90s. 

"We will never allow any people, organization or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country at any time, in any form … No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests," Xi added.

'Strong military'

The Chinese president said that over the past five years, the country's military has successfully "remodeled" its power structure as well as its public image.

When Xi rose to power in 2012, he vowed to modernize the Chinese military, considered the largest in the world. Since then, Beijing has sought to overhaul its technological capabilities and invest in new equipment, including stealth fighters and aircraft carriers.

"To build a strong military, China must unswervingly adhere to the Party's absolute leadership over the armed forces, and make sure that the people's army always follows the Party," Xi said.

Read more: Djibouti military base ' a manifestation of China's global interests'

Although it has been decades since China last fought a war, the government insists that its ambitious modernization program for the military is to adequately defend its economy.

As part of the 90th anniversary celebrations for the People's Liberation Army, Xi presided over an elaborate military parade on Sunday at a remote training base in China's Inner Mongolia region.

China & Taiwan's 70 year cold war

Animosity has lasted nearly seven decades

China and Taiwan split in 1949 following the rise of Communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. China's nationalist President Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan - which was then a backwater island.

China & Taiwan's 70 year cold war

Move to Taiwan 'only temporary'

In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek established a "provisional" Republic of China capital in Taipei. Post-war economic conditions caused severe inflation which left the island's tiny population impoverished for many years.

China & Taiwan's 70 year cold war

Taiwan prospers without the motherland

Over the past six decades, Taiwan has experienced rapid industrialization and economic growth, becoming known as one of the "Four Asian Tigers."

China & Taiwan's 70 year cold war

Rise of China

In the past 30 years, China has brushed off Communism in all but name, rising to become the world's second largest economy by nominal GDP. China insists Taiwan is part of its territory. But Taiwan maintains it is a sovereign state and a democracy.

China & Taiwan's 70 year cold war

US arms sales

In 2011, Taiwan upgraded its F-16 fighter fleet at a cost of $.5.3 billion (4.9 billion euros). China denounced the sale of arms from the US, warning at the time that it would damage Sino-American military and security ties.

China & Taiwan's 70 year cold war

South China Sea diputes

Taiwan and China are currently locked in territorial disputes over the South China Sea. China's claims over most of area, along with its massive land reclamation projects in the Spratly islands, have annoyed much of the rest of Asia.

China & Taiwan's 70 year cold war

'We are one family'

Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed the relations between Beijing and Taipei, saying that "we are brothers...still connected by our flesh even if our bones are broken." In response, Ma called on China to respect Taiwan's democracy.

China & Taiwan's 70 year cold war

Protesters not convinced by China's overtures

In the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, about 500 people took to the streets to protest against the meeting between the two leaders. Many are skeptical as to whether ties with China will allow the territory's democracy to be maintained.

ls/rt (Reuters, AP, dpa)