Xi Jinping vows to make China's military a 'great wall of steel' in first speech of new presidential term

Chinese leader Xi Jinping delivers the first speech of his third term as President at the closing of the National People's Congress in Beijing on March 13.

(CNN)China's leader Xi Jinping on Monday vowed to bolster national security and build the military into a "great wall of steel," in the first speech of his precedent-breaking third term as president.

Speaking at the closing of the annual meeting of China's rubber-stamp parliament, Xi underscored the need to comprehensively modernize national defense and the military.
"(We must) build the People's Liberation Army into a great wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security, and development interests," Xi told the nearly 3,000 delegates of the National People's Congress (NPC).
    Xi, 69, was unanimously endorsed by the NPC as China's president for another five years in a choreographed and ceremonial vote Friday, making him the longest-serving head of state of Communist China since its founding in 1949.
      At the start of his speech Monday, Xi thanked the delegates for his reappointment.
      "This is my third time assuming the lofty position as president. The trust of the people is the biggest driving force for me to move forward, and also a heavy responsibility on my shoulders," he said.
      Like his many previous speeches, Xi struck a nationalist tone, citing the hardships China suffered at the hands of "bullying foreign powers" in the modern era and noting how the Communist Party has led the country to "wipe clean the national humiliation."
        "The Chinese people have become the masters of their own destiny," he said. "The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process."
        According to Xi the "essence" of that rejuvenation is "national unification," namely "reunifying" Taiwan with mainland China.