Xi’s comments, made on Tuesday during a naval inspection trip, come amid heightened tension in the region.
China recently wrapped up three days of military exercises launched in response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the United States, where she met with a bipartisan group of congressmen.
Xi told the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command on Tuesday that the military must “resolutely defend China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests and strive to protect overall peripheral stability,” state broadcaster CCTV reported, according to France24. .
Beijing is also angered by a plan for US forces to use an increasing number of bases in the Philippines, including one near Taiwan.
The United States and the Philippines are holding their largest-ever joint military exercises this week, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledging to “stand with the Philippines against any intimidation or coercion, including in the South China Sea.”
Xi added on Tuesday that China must be “innovative in its fighting concepts and methods”.
China and Taiwan separated following a civil war in 1949.
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