By Gaurav Sharma
Beijing, Oct 18 (IANS) China’s most important political event, the Communist Party Congress, opened here on Wednesday, with President Xi Jinping pledging to transform the country’s armed forces into a world-class military to safeguard the country’s sovereignty.
In a three-and-a-half-hour speech, Xi touched various issues ranging from national rejuvenation to staunch loyalty to the Communist Party, which has ruled China since 1949 when Mao seized power.
On a rain-soaked morning at the Great Hall, Xi said military mechanization will be achieved by 2020 and the application of IT in the force had come a long way.
“The armed forces will be transformed into a world-class military by the mid-21st century,” Xi announced amid rapturous applause.
Xi, the chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, called for unflinching loyalty from the Army towards the party.
China has the world’s largest standing Army of 2.3 million. Unlike other countries’ armed forces, the Army is political.
Xi has carried massive military reforms and decided to bring the number of troops to below one million.
“We must enhance the political loyalty of the armed forces,” Xi said, adding that focus must be on combat.
Addressing 2,280 party delegates from different parts of China, Xi said the party would resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
Xi, who at the last Congress in 2012 talked about “China’s dream”, used the term “national rejuvenation” several times.
“Achieving national rejuvenation will be no cakewalk… It will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there.”
Xi, who is set to get a second five-year term as party’s General Secretary at the event, talked about the success of his anti-graft campaign.
“We have taken out tigers, swat flies and hunted down foxes. The goal of creating a deterrent against corruption has been initially attained.”
Xi also vowed to reunite self-ruled Taiwan with China.
“We should keep on working with great determination to accomplish the three historic tasks for advancing modernization, realizing China’s reunification and preserving world peace.”
China considers Taiwan a wayward province which it dreams to reunite with the mainland even if by force.
The opening day of the seven-day Congress was attended by Xi’s predecessors Hu Jintao and 91-year-old Jiang Zemin.
Xi was flanked by the two leaders. While he was delivering the speech, a bespectacled Zemin was seen reading the work report by using a magnifier.
At the once-in-five-years event, party delegates meet to decide the top leadership of the country of 1.3 billion.
Xi’s re-election as General Secretary — China’s top post — and a reshuffle in the all-powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee and other bodies will be the highlights of the event.
The Congress will chart the course for China’s next five years in economy and foreign policy besides domestic issues.
However, this year’s Congress is primarily seen as an event where Xi, who has emerged as China’s most powerful leader in decades, will amass more power.
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