After decades of tensions with the United States over the sovereignty of the little island, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to bolster his military and move toward “reunification” with Taiwan in a defiant address to begin his third term.

As he stated that China must “grow the People’s Liberation Army into a huge wall of steel that effectively preserves national sovereignty, security, and development interests,” Xi delivered the speech on Monday during the National People’s Congress closing ceremony.

After being elected for a third five-year term, making him China’s longest-serving leader, he outlined his intentions, saying that China should endeavor to achieve greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology.In addition, Xi attacked “bullying foreign countries” who want to restrict China’s economy and increase their influence across Asia in his speech.

“The Chinese people have become the rulers of their own destiny,” he remarked, referring to “reunifying” with Taiwan. The Chinese country has undergone a major renewal, and a permanent historical process has begun.

The stern remark comes as U.S. ties with Beijing have reached a boiling point following several weeks of escalating tensions and as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was scheduled to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California next month.The 69-year-old Xi reiterated this position in his speech on Monday while also advocating for the development and modernization of the nation’s armed forces.

Xi thanked the loyalist body for reappointing him and added, “It is important to… strengthen the capacity to safeguard national security.

“I’ve held the high office of president three times now. The strongest motivator for me to advance is the people’s trust, which also places a great deal of responsibility on my shoulders “said he.

Taiwan, which China invaded in the 1940s, is seen by Beijing as a colony gone astray that it has promised to reclaim by force, if necessary. China has increased the stakes under Xi’s leadership by applying additional military pressure and sanctions to the independent island of 23 million people.