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Chinese President Xi Jinping has emphasized the “urgent” need to build a robust navy as he oversaw the country’s largest naval fleet review since 1949, while the government announced live-fire military drills would take place in the Taiwan Strait next week.

Xi headed the fleet review in the South China Sea on Thursday morning, saying the need to build a strong navy “has never been more urgent than today,” according to a Defense Ministry statement. He also urged the navy to stay on high alert, safeguard national interests and strengthen the leadership of the Communist Party.

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