China is strengthening its military to form a “Great Wall of Steel”, its Xi Jinping said on Monday in his first speech since beginning his precedent-breaking third term in office.
Mr Xi called for China to step up its ability to safeguard national security and manage public security.
“Security is the foundation for development, stability is the prerequisite for prosperity,” he said at the closing of the annual parliament session.
Last week, the Chinese government announced it would hike military spending to its fastest pace in four years, citing foreign threats.
It came as reports emerged suggesting the Chinese president is planning a trip to Russia as early as next week to meet with Vladimir Putin.
Last month, Putin hosted China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on a visit to Moscow and signalled that Xi would travel to Russia.
The ruling Communist Party is expected to tighten party oversight over security matters, a move that comes after Mr Xi replaced top security officials with his trusted allies.
Mr Xi on Monday also said China must achieve greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology, a call that comes as the United States blocks China’s access to chip making equipment and other cutting-edge technologies.
On Taiwan, the self-ruled island which China claims as its own and a major producer of semiconductors, Mr Xi said China must oppose pro-independence and secessionist activities and the interference of external forces.