Beijing (GPA) – Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered an inspiring video address to ring in the New Year, touting not only the major gains made by China in the last year but also the plans for even more incredible change in the years to come.
In a recorded message celebrating the New Year holiday on the Gregorian Calendar, Xi Jinping offered kind greetings to the Chinese people at home and abroad as he offered his view of the current state of China. Xi’s address was incredibly upbeat for good reason, as the man has had an incredible 2017 and has giant programs planned in the upcoming years that will make these past 12 months seems like several drops of water in a lake.
This is saying a lot, especially when you consider some of the achievements listed off by Xi in the beginning of his comments, such as the growth of China’s Gross Domestic Product from 72.8 trillion Yuan ($11.2t) to 80 trillion (about $12.3t). The addition of 3 million new job opportunities, on par with the number of jobs created in 2016.
Xi highlighted advancements in social programs meant to help the average Chinese citizen, such as the old age pension program, which now enrolls more than 900 million Chinese senior citizens and the public insurance program which was extended to cover an additional 1.35 billion people this year. China has also lifted another 10 million rural residents out of poverty in the last year, to which Xi said, was not the end of his effort to eliminate poverty and then went on to quote ancient Chinese poet Du Fu saying: “If only I could get tens of thousands of mansions! I would house all the poor people who would then beam with smiles.”
While Xi may not have had those tens of thousands of mansions, he did have some reason to celebrate the housing situation of the average Chinese citizen. “As part of our poverty alleviation efforts, 3.4 million people have moved into new and warm homes, and the goal of upgrading 6 million housing units in run-down areas has been realized in advance,” he said.
Beyond social programs, Xi also had a long list of technological achievements from the past year which have caused the whole world to focus on China this year. Included in this list were achievements such as the Huiyan Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope being launched into space, the first flight of the Chinese-made C919 jumbo jet, and the development of China’s first quantum computer. Xi also celebrated major pieces of infrastructure innovation including “The Yangshan Phase-IV Automated Port,” and other projects like “The main structure of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge...and the Fuxing high-speed trains.”
Xi also highlighted important historical anniversaries that happened this past year, saying:
We held a military drill in Zhurihe training base, commemorating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Upon the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, I paid a visit to it and saw with my own eyes that Hong Kong has maintained its long-term prosperity and stability with the firm support of the motherland, and it will surely enjoy a better tomorrow. In order to remember history and call for peace, we held a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, as well as a national memorial service for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre.”
SUBSCRIBE TO THE GEOPOLITICS ALERT NEWSLETTER
Also among the list of Xi’s accomplishments, this past year was his new role as a global leader and the skill with which he is responding to the shrinking global role of the US. This was most visible in the advancement of programs and trade negotiations that are forming the base of the Belt and Road global trade system. The major economic changes underway were highlighted in Xi’s many speeches this year at both events China hosted (BRICS, the Belt and Road Forum as well as the internal Party Conference) as well as events abroad attended by Xi (Davos, the G20, and an APEC summit).
Judging by Xi’s comments, the most important of those meetings is the internal Communist Party of China’s National Congress, which laid out the “guiding principles” for the future of Chinese policy for “the country’s development in the next three decades.”
“2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up policy,” Xi said, “The policy is the only way for modern China to make progress in its development as well as to realize the Chinese dream. With the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening up policy as a turning point, we shall cut paths through mountains and build bridges across rivers, overcome all difficulties and carry reform through to the end.”
Some of these guiding principles include the CPC’s three-year goal “to lift all rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty by 2020.” This is one of Xi’s most important initiatives which he has championed since becoming the leader of China, which he wishes to see “mark the first entire elimination of absolute impoverishment in the Chinese nation’s history which has lasted for thousands of years.”
Xi also spoke on China’s growing role as an influential power in global politics; promising that Beijing would play the role of a responsible and respectful partner and negotiator in the future. In his comments, Xi made the following promise to the global community: “China will resolutely uphold the authority and status of the United Nations, conscientiously perform its due international obligations and responsibilities, keep its promises on global climate change, actively push forward the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, and always contribute to the building of world peace and global development, and the safeguarding of international order. The Chinese people are willing to work together with people of various countries in opening up a beautiful future of greater prosperity and tranquility for mankind.”
While western leaders preach death, destruction, and chaos, Xi is clearly showing that he is the new model for what a world leader looks like. Xi’s concerns may begin at home, where “The CPC committees, governments and officials at all levels shall always take into consideration the safety and necessities of the people wholeheartedly, and regard the work of benefitting the people as their top political achievement,” but this is not for purely selfish reasons or part of some “China-First” governing style. No, projects like Belt and Road and China’s commitments to advancing technology like renewable energy, show that what Beijing does may benefit their people the most initially but these advancements will be shared with the wider world.
Below is Xi’s New Year’s address, the full transcript is available here:
Video credit: CGTN