Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday said that he will not renounce the right to use force in Taiwan, the Associated Press reported.

Beijing considers Taiwan, a self-ruled island, as a province that is to be unified with the Chinese mainland.

“We have resolutely waged a major struggle against separatism…and oppose Taiwan’s independence,” Xi said. “We will adhere to striving for the prospect of a peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and greatest efforts, but will never commit to abandoning the use of force.”

Xi made the remarks during the opening of the 20th Congress of China’s ruling Communist party, a week-long event where he is expected to cement his third term as the country’s premier.

In Sunday’s speech, Xi further said that the issue of Taiwan was an internal matter of China. “Resolving the issue is the Chinese people’s own business and it is up to the Chinese people to decide,” he said, according to The New York Times.

Xi also promised that China will accelerate the building of world-class military and strengthen its ability to build a strategic deterrent capability.

“China will aim for high-quality economic growth and the next five years will be crucial for building a modern socialist power,” he said, according to Reuters.

The Chinese president also defended his government’s strict measures against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that he “put the people and their lives above all else.”

Meanwhile, Taiwan responded to Xi’s statement by saying it will not back down on its sovereignty and maintained that it is an independent country.

“Taiwan’s position is firm: no backing down on national sovereignty, no compromise on democracy and freedom, and meeting on the battlefield is absolutely not an option for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” a statement the country’s presidential office said, according to Reuters.

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said that Xi should rather focus on his own people.