Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, reviews the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea on April 12, 2018. Xi made a speech after the review. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
SANYA, April 12 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping reviewed the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea Thursday morning, saying that the need to build a strong navy "has never been more urgent than today."
The navy review is the largest of its kind in the People's Republic of China since its founding in 1949.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, called for efforts to build a first-class navy.
Taking part in the review were more than 10,000 service personnel, 48 vessels and 76 aircraft. They included the aircraft carrier Liaoning and latest submarines, vessels and fighter jets. More than half of the vessels were commissioned after the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012.
At around 9 a.m., Xi boarded the missile destroyer Changsha and sailed to where the review was to be conducted.
It started at about 10 a.m. after Xi gave the order.
Xi made a speech after the review, saying that it has always been China's aspiration to have a strong navy, which serves as a key guarantee to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
He pledged to speed up the modernization of the navy.
Xi said notable progress has been made and today's Chinese navy has "stood up in the East" with a brand new image.
"The Party and the people are proud of the PLA Navy," Xi said.
He asked naval officers and soldiers to fully implement the Party's absolute leadership over the military, be firm in ideals and convictions, and uphold the glorious traditions, while pushing for technological innovation, developing new types of battle forces, and building a modern maritime combat system.
Xi asked naval officers and soldiers to remain on high alert, answer the calls of the Party and the people at all times, resolutely defend the national interests, and strive to contribute more to upholding the peace and stability of the region and the world.