In a three-plus hour speech to kick off the 19th People’s Congress, President Xi Jinping listed three priorities for his country, with upgrading and modernizing the Chinese military as the number one objective.

“A military is prepared for war. All military works must adhere to the standards of being able to fight a war and win a war.” said Xi, “Our army is the people’s army; our defense is national defense. [We must] enhance the education on national defense education, consolidate the unity between the military and civilian, in order to achieve the Chinese dream of a strong military.”

Since taking office five years ago, Xi has repeatedly emphasized “the Chinese dream of a strong military” and the goal of fostering a military that can win wars.

A second objective was maintaining pressure on Taiwan, which is considered a renegade province of the mainland but which is actually a thriving democracy separate from Beijing.

[We will] resolutely safeguard the national sovereignty and territorial integrity and will absolutely not tolerate the tragedy of the country’s split. Any activity aiming to split the motherland will be firmly opposed by all the Chinese people. We have a firm will, sufficient faith, and adequate capacity to defeat any intention of ‘Taiwan independence in any form. [We will] never allow any person, any organization, any political party, at any time, in any form, to separate any piece of Chinese territory from China,” he said. He also criticized Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who has publicly refused to recognize the so-called “1992 Consensus” of one China. It’s believed Xi will begin to put more pressure on Taiwan after the conclusion of the congress.

The third priority is to improve relations with Hong Kong, which the British handed back to Beijing 25 years ago. There have been increased tensions between the city-state and Beijing in recent years, with some even calling for Hong Kong independence.

Analyst Comment: Under Xi, China looks to redouble efforts to build a first-class military that can (and will) threaten the old Western-dominated order in Asia led by the United States. As Beijing’s military improves, China will become more assertive and that will necessarily brush up against U.S. national interests and alliances in the region.

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