President Xi Jinping said Monday that China should develop its security and that it needed to modernize the military to create a "Great Wall of Steel."
Xi, who recently began a third term as head of state, was speaking at the closing of the annual parliament session.
"Security is the bedrock of development, while stability is a prerequisite for prosperity. We must fully promote the modernization of national defense and the armed forces, and build the people's armed forces into a Great Wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security, and development interests," he said.
He vowed to "take the needs of the country as my mission, and the interests of the people as my yardstick."
At the opening of the session, China set a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth target of 5% percent, its lowest goal in nearly three decades, after the economy grew just 3% last year. Li said that the modest figure "has been determined after a comprehensive consideration of various factors."
Xi's ally Li Qiang, who has been appointed as China's new premier, said the US was trying to curtail China's global influence through isolation and containment.
"China and the US can and must cooperate. Encirclement and suppression are in no one's interest," he said.
China's government is expected to tighten oversight on security matters. Xi had earlier placed trusted allies in top security positions.
The Chinese president also added that the country must achieve greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology. The US has blocked China's access to chip-making equipment.
Xi called for stability in Hong Kong and unification with Taiwan, which Beijing views as part of its territory. "The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process, he said.
Tensions between the US and China have risen in recent times, following visits by US politicians to Taiwan, and the alleged encroachment of a spy balloon in US airspace.
tg/rc (dpa, AFP, Reuters)