President Xi Jinping said Sunday China needs a strong military more than ever, urging building the People's Liberation Army (PLA) into world-class armed forces with confidence and capability to "defeat all invading enemies" and "safeguard world peace."
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered a speech after overseeing a grand military parade at the Zhurihe training base in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to mark the PLA's 90th anniversary, which falls on Aug. 1.
"The world is not all at peace, and peace must be safeguarded," said Xi. "Today, we are closer to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation than any other time in history, and we need to build a strong people's military more than any other time in history."
Enjoying peace is a bliss for the people while protecting peace is the responsibility of the people's army, Xi said.
He urged the PLA to fully implement the CPC's thoughts on building a strong military, follow the path of strengthening the army with Chinese characteristics, strive for the CPC's target on strengthening the PLA under the new circumstances, and build the heroic PLA into a world-class military.
This was the first time that China has commemorated Army Day with a military parade since the founding of New China in 1949.
Xi lauded contributions made by the PLA in its nine decades of history to the country and the people.
The shot fired in Nanchang 90 years ago marked the inception of a new type of people's army under the leadership of the CPC. Over the past 90 years, the PLA has held high the banner of the Party and shouldered the hopes of the nation, Xi said.
Bathed in blood while forging ahead, they have defeated all the enemies, overcome all sorts of challenges, and made "immortal feat" to help the Chinese people stand up and prosper, he said.
History has proved that the PLA is a heroic force that has followed the Party's command, served the country with loyalty, and fought for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
The Party and people of all ethnic groups in China take great pride in having such a heroic army, he said.
Xi ordered the PLA to follow the absolute leadership of the CPC.
"Officers and soldiers, you must unswervingly stick to the fundamental principle and system of the Party's absolute leadership over the army, always listen to and follow the Party's orders, and march to wherever the Party points to," Xi said.
PLA officers and soldiers should firmly adhere to the fundamental goal of serving the people wholeheartedly, and always stand together with the people, Xi said.
Xi ordered the PLA to uphold combat effectiveness as the "sole and fundamental" standard for the military.
The PLA must focus on war preparedness and forge an elite and powerful force that is always "ready for fight, capable of combat, and sure to win," Xi said.
He also called on the officers and soldiers to build the army with better political awareness, strengthen the army through reform, develop the army with science and technology, and govern the army according to law, in order to push for the modernization of national defense and the military in all respects.
"Our heroic armed forces have the confidence and capability to defeat all invading enemies and safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests," he said.
The PLA also has the confidence and capability to build a stronger military and make new and greater contribution to realizing China's two centenary goals and the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, and safeguarding world peace, Xi said.