President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year address to extend greetings to all Chinese and best wishes to friends all over the world in Beijing on December 31, 2017 (XINHUA)
On December 31, President Xi Jinping extended New Year greetings to the nation in his annual New Year address. Xi pointed to China's achievements in 2017 as well as the challenges the country will tackle in the new year and those to follow.
Livelihoods were at the center of Xi's message, highlighting the "people first" principle which underlines China's governance. Xi said he was aware of people's primary concerns, which include education, employment, income, social security, medical care, elderly care, housing and the environment.
"There is still much room for improvement in our work concerning people's well-being. So we must strengthen our sense of mission and responsibility and make every effort to deliver a better life for our people," Xi said in the speech.
Peng Xinlin, a professor from Beijing Normal University, said during an interview with China Youth Daily that he was most impressed by Xi's call for Party and government officials to place the people's needs as their top priority, and regard benefiting the people as the highest accomplishment of their careers.
"To guarantee and improve people's livelihoods is not only an economic or social issue, it is a crucial political issue directly concerning our Party's ruling foundation," Peng said. "To test the effectiveness of our work, the final criteria are whether the people really see the benefits, and whether people's lives have been improved."
"The word 'people' was mentioned many times in the speech and it is very encouraging," said Zhang Xianyi, Director of Nanhu Revolutionary Memorial Hall in Jiaxing of east China's Zhejiang Province, where the first National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held in 1921. "The original aspiration and mission of the Chinese Communists is to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation," Zhang said.
Xi said that in 2017 he received many letters from people across the country, including villagers from Tibet Autonomous Region, members of the Ulan Muqir Art Troupe in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and undergraduates from Nankai University who joined the military services. Xi wrote back to them, praising them for the efforts they have already made and encouraging them to make further contributions to the country.
The year 2018 will be the first to move toward the goal set by the CPC at its 19th National Congress. "The 19th Party Congress laid out a blueprint for China's development in the next three decades and beyond," Xi said. "To turn this blueprint into reality, we must …take one step at a time as we progress and deliver tangible outcomes."
"Xi's vision for China presents a rather stark contrast to the more mundane messages presented by most other political leaders to their constituents," William Jones, Washington Bureau Chief of the U.S. magazine Executive Intelligence Review, told Beijing Review. In Jones' eyes, the difference lies in the fact that leaders in the West have a viewpoint limited to no more than the four or five years they have left in office, whereas President Xi is looking decades ahead at what China can accomplish in the next 30, 40, or 50 years.
"This breadth of view and sense of purpose characterizes the difference between a mere politician and a great statesman," Jones said.
China officially launches its second--and the first domestically developed--aircraft carrier in Dalian, Liaoning Province, on April 26, 2017 (XINHUA)
Since 2015, 2020 has been earmarked as the year in which China's campaign to lift all rural residents out of poverty will be achieved, and there now are only three years to go.
"Happiness is indeed earned through hard work," Xi said in his speech. "Winning this tough battle against poverty within three years means that for the first time in China's history of several millennia, extreme poverty will cease to exist in the country."
Peng Xiaying, a villager from Maoping in south China's Jiangxi Province, was excited to hear Xi's remarks. In 2017, Peng and her daughter opened a restaurant in the village and their annual income is now more than 100,000 yuan ($15,300).
"The government has made great efforts to guide us out of poverty," Peng said. "I am very glad to learn that there were more than 10 million rural residents like me lifted out of poverty in 2017."
"I can feel the confidence of the people and officials toward the bright future of our country," said Jiang Shengxia, Party Secretary of Panlong Village in Tongcheng of east China's Anhui Province. As a delegate to the 19th CPC National Congress, Jiang has been busy introducing the outcome of the congress to villagers. In 2017, 127 residents from 49 households in Panlong were lifted out of poverty.
"In 2018, we will strive to develop tourism in rural areas and green agricultural industries to help villagers to earn more and live a better life," Jiang said.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge on December 31, 2017 (XINHUA)
Reform and the world
The year 2018 also marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. In his speech, Xi vowed that the spirit of reform must be carried through into the new year as reform and opening up is a path of demonstrable success to which China must stick if it is to continue its progress in national socio-economic development and realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
On December 31 last year, during the final hours of 2017, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was lit up in a ceremony to mark the completion of the majority of the world's longest sea-crossing structure. Six years of planning and eight years of construction went into the 55-km-long bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai in Guangdong Province and Macao.
"We will build the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area into a green and livable city group," said Gao Xinglin, an official from the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Management Bureau. "This bridge will be an impetus for the development of the Greater Bay Area."
"The Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone has taken a new look every year," said Wang Jinxia, Deputy Director of Qianhai Management Bureau in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. The booming metropolis of Shenzhen developed from a small fishing village following the piloting of market economy during the nascent stages of reform and opening up. The Qianhai Area is now a pilot zone in Shenzhen for deepening the process of reform.
"We will intensify reform in Qianhai and explore innovative policies for financial cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong," Wang said. "We will make it a new key area and an important juncture for Belt and Road construction."
Proposed by Xi in September 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes, with the intention of creating new platforms for international cooperation.
The 19th CPC National Congress outlined the building of a community with a shared future for mankind and the implementation of a new type of international relations as the overall goal of China's foreign diplomacy.
"To build a community with a shared future for mankind is China's answer to the question of 'what we can do for the world,' and this answer has been well received across the globe," said Ruan Zongze from the China Institute of International Studies.
"With the world in so much turmoil today, the message of hope which rings clear in Xi's New Year address is also a message of hope for the world, since China is prepared to share its development in creating a community of shared future for mankind," Jones said.
President Xi Jinping's New Year Address
Greetings to you all!
How time flies. Soon we will ring in the year 2018. I wish to extend New Year wishes to the people of all ethnic groups across China, including our fellow Chinese in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, Taiwan, and overseas. I also wish our friends in all other countries and regions around the world all the best in the new year.
As the Chinese adage goes, hard work always pays off. Indeed, our hard work has brought remarkable change to China. In 2017, we held the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), embarking on a new journey of making all-round efforts to build a modern socialist country. China's GDP has exceeded 80 trillion yuan ($12.3 trillion). More than 13 million new jobs have been created in urban and rural areas. Over 900 million Chinese are now covered by social pension insurance and 1.35 billion Chinese have access to basic medical insurance. Another 10 million-plus rural residents have been lifted out of poverty. "How wonderful it would be if all the poor people could be properly sheltered!" Such was the longing of an ancient Chinese poet. Thanks to our poverty alleviation efforts, 3.4 million poor people have been relocated and moved into new and warm homes, and the building of 6 million housing units in run-down areas has begun ahead of schedule. We have stepped up initiatives aimed at improving people's lives and steadily improved the ecological environment, while our people now have a stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. In short, we have taken another big step toward the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
The past year has seen a number of major innovation and engineering success stories. Huiyan, a hard X-ray modulation telescope, was launched into space, while the C919 large passenger jet completed its maiden flight. A quantum computer has been successfully developed and trials have been conducted for growing rice in saline soil by the sea.
The first Chinese-built aircraft carrier was launched, Haiyi, an underwater glider, conducted deep-sea observations, and sub oceanic combustible ice was successfully extracted for the first time. Phase IV of the Yangshan Automated Port is now operational. The main structure of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge has been completed, and the Fuxing high-speed trains have been put into service. Big congratulations to you, my fellow Chinese, for your great ingenuity!
We held a military parade at the Zhurihe training base in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army. I attended Hong Kong's celebrations for the 20th anniversary of its return to the motherland. I could see first-hand that with the strong backing of the motherland, Hong Kong enjoys long-term prosperity and stability, and there is no doubt that the region will have an even better tomorrow. We also held a ceremony to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, and a national memorial ceremony for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, honoring those who lost their lives and expressing our resolve to uphold peace.
China also played host to several multilateral diplomatic events, including the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the BRICS Xiamen Summit, and the CPC in Dialogue With World Political Parties High-Level Meeting. I also attended several major multilateral meetings. At the beginning of the year, I attended the annual World Economic Forum in Davos and delivered a speech at the UN Office at Geneva. Later in the year, I attended the G20 Summit and the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. On those occasions, I held in-depth exchanges with global leaders, and we agreed that it is imperative to build a community with a shared future for mankind in order to benefit the people of all countries.
In 2017, I continued to receive many letters from the public, including villagers from the Yumai Township of Longzi County in Tibet Autonomous Region, members of the Ulan Muqir Art Troupe of Sonid Right Banner from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, retired professors who have been with the Xi'an Jiaotong University since it was moved to Xi'an several decades ago, and undergraduates from Nankai University who joined our military services. Their stories moved me deeply. You, the people, with a strong sense of patriotism, have devoted yourselves to our common cause without regret or complaint. You, the ordinary Chinese, in your hundreds and millions, are the greatest heroes! What you have achieved shows that happiness is indeed earned through hard work.
The year 2018 will be the first for us here in China to move toward the goal set by the CPC at its 19th National Congress. The 19th Party Congress laid out a blueprint for China's development in the next three decades and beyond. As another Chinese saying goes, the building of a nine-story tower must begin by shoveling the first pile of earth. To turn this blueprint into reality, we must not entertain impractical notions or indulge in rhetoric. What we must do is to be realistic in our approach, and take one step at a time as we progress and deliver tangible outcomes.
The year 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. Reform and opening up is the only way that today's China will achieve development and progress; and only by pursuing reform and opening up can we realize the Chinese dream. We will generate momentum for reform and opening up by celebrating its 40th anniversary, and, with the same drive and tenacity necessary to cut a path through the mountains and build a bridge across the rapid currents, we will carry reform through to its ultimate success.
By 2020, China will have lifted its rural population living below the current poverty line out of poverty. This is a solemn pledge that we have made, and we must honor it. With only three years to go, all of us in the country must get stuck into the action and take targeted steps to reach our goal. Winning this tough battle against poverty within three years will mean that for the first time in China's history of several millennia, extreme poverty will cease to exist in the country. Let's work together to accomplish this cause, a cause that is of monumental significance to both us the Chinese nation and the whole mankind.
Today, people in the world express both hope and concern about the prospects of peace and development, and they want to know where China stands on these issues. The world is one big family. As a responsible major country, China has this to say: China will resolutely uphold the authority and stature of the United Nations, fulfill its due international obligations and responsibilities, honor its commitments on climate change, actively pursue the Belt and Road Initiative, and continue its efforts to safeguard world peace, promote global development and uphold the international order. We Chinese will continue to work together with people of all other countries to deliver a future of greater prosperity and peace for mankind.
China's great progress is achieved by our people and must be shared by our people. I know that the areas of greatest concern to our people are related to education, employment, income, social security, healthcare, elderly care, housing and the environment, to name but a few of the major issues. We have made many gains, but we also face many pressing and difficult problems. There is still much room for improvement in our work concerning people's well-being. So we must strengthen our sense of mission and responsibility and make every effort to deliver a better life for our people. We, Party committees, governments and officials at all levels, must always keep in mind the well-being of the people, make benefiting the people our top priority, promptly address their pressing concerns and ensure they lead better lives.
Thank you all!
(Ding Ying contributed to the article)
Copyedited by Laurence Coulton
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