President Xi Jinping delivered a blistering nationalist speech Tuesday, warning against any attempts to split China and touting the country's readiness to fight "the bloody battle" to regain its rightful place in the world.
Mr Xi's address capped an annual session of the National People's Congress that paved the way for him to rule for life, as China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong pushes through his vision of guiding the country through a "new era" of unrivalled global military and economic supremacy.
Days after President Donald Trump signed new rules allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan, Mr Xi warned that Beijing would defend its "one China principle", which sees the self-ruling island as its territory awaiting reunification.
"All acts and tricks to separate the country are doomed to fail and will be condemned by the people and punished by history," Mr Xi told nearly 3,000 delegates assembled at the imposing Great Hall of the People facing Tiananmen Square.
But he also sought to address concerns about ambitious Chinese development projects abroad, saying they "will not pose a threat to any country."
"Only those who are accustomed to threatening others will see everyone as a threat," he added in an address that drew waves of applause from the legislators.
China is overseeing a massive global trade infrastructure initiative to revive the ancient Silk Road, drawing interest from nations participating in the investment but also criticism from others fearing that it mainly serves Beijing's interests.
The Chinese leader's plan to build a "world-class" military by mid-century has also raised concerns about how it plans to use its increasingly modern forces amid regional frictions over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Mr Xi used the speech to espouse his vision of realising the "rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" - the "greatest dream" of the world's second-largest economy.
"The Chinese people have been indomitable and persistent, we have the spirit of fighting the bloody battle against our enemies to the bitter end," he said.
But his speech was also a reminder that the Communist Party, more than ever, reigns over the country's affairs.
"History has already proven and will continue to prove that only socialism can save China," he said.
"The Communist Party is the supreme political leadership of the country and the fundamental guarantee to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."