President Xi Jinping condemned the US-led “suppression of China” in a speech to delegates at an annual congress in Beijing, state media reported.

“Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development,” Xi said, news agency Xinhua reported late Monday.

Delegates, including Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Edmund Ho Hau-wah (second right) and Wan Gang (right), applaud as China's President Xi Jinping (bottom) arrives for the opening session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 5, 2023. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP.
Delegates, including Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Edmund Ho Hau-wah (second right) and Wan Gang (right), applaud as China’s President Xi Jinping (bottom) arrives for the opening session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 5, 2023. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP.

The 69-year-old leader, who is gearing up to start a third consecutive presidential term, said the past five years have been riddled with a new set of hurdles that threaten to weigh down China’s economic rise.

Xi added that China must “have the courage to fight as the country faces profound and complex changes in both the domestic and international landscape”, according to a readout of the speech to delegates at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Beijing and Washington have butted heads in recent years over trade, human rights and other issues, but relations soured even further last month when the US shot down a Chinese balloon it said was being used for surveillance – a claim strenuously denied by Beijing.

Top American officials have also repeatedly warned that China may invade Taiwan in the coming years, pointing to Beijing’s increasingly assertive military moves around the self-ruled island, which it sees as its own territory and has vowed to bring under its control.

The balloon incident caused US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a diplomatic trip to Beijing for a meeting that would have focused on a range of hot-button issues.

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