China’s president talks tough ahead of tribunal ruling

BEIJING (TIP): China will never compromise on sovereignty, President Xi Jinping said on July 1 ahead of an international tribunal ruling over Beijing’s maritime claims, as he marked the Communist Party’s 95th anniversary.

“No foreign country… should expect us to swallow the bitter pill of harm to our national sovereignty, security or development interests,” Xi told an audience of top officials, to rapturous applause.

“We are not afraid of trouble,” he said in Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People, stressing a strong army and a wider role for China on the world stage.

His remarks come as regional tensions rise over Beijing’s claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, with the US sending naval patrols close to artificial islands Beijing has built in the disputed waters.

Xi took an apparent stab at the US, saying: “We will not show up at other people’s front doors to flex our muscles. That does not show strength or scare anyone.”

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An international tribunal in The Hague will rule on July 12 in a case brought by the Philippines challenging China’s claims in the strategic waterway.

Beijing insists that the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no jurisdiction over the issue and has boycotted the proceedings.

In his speech, Xi heaped praise on the ruling party and vowed to maintain the country’s centralised political system.

“All party comrades must remember what we are constructing is socialism with Chinese characteristics, and not any other ideology,” he said.

Since assuming the party’s top post in 2012, Xi has rapidly consolidated power while overseeing a more assertive foreign policy and a tighter authoritarian stance at home.

He has won popularity with a much-publicised anti-corruption campaign that has claimed the scalps of several former top-ranked officials.

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