Xi’s New Year speech highlights achievements in 2018, sets hopeful tone for 2019
Updated 21:26, 03-Jan-2019
By Zhao Yuanzhen, Yang Chuchu
Editor's note: This article is based on an interview with Li Haidong, Professor of the Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU). The article reflects the expert's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN. 
As families gather together on New Year's Eve and friends exchange New Year greetings in the chilly night, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent an inspirational and encouraging New Year's message to both the Chinese people and the world.
The speech highlighted the achievements made by China in various fields, and efforts China has made to push forward high-quality development as well as poverty alleviation. Just as President Xi stated: “2018 has been a full year, and we approached it with steadfast determination.” And the reasons behind these achievements are without question, the party's deeply rooted people-oriented governing philosophy.
At the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2017, it was confirmed that the “principal contradiction” facing today's China is the “contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life." The growing demand for a better life has pushed the government to seek high-quality development rather a GDP-oriented economy. The new development model calls for structural reforms in China's economy, which has seen strategic implementation in 2018, producing ample results across China.
As President Xi mentioned in his speech, the opening of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will embrace a more integrated bay area; the contribution of the service industry to China's economy is on the rise; and China's high technology development has reached a new stage with the successful launch of Chang'e and Beidou Navigation satellites, and breakthroughs made in AI territory.
In the meantime, as President Xi expresses his solicitude to people working at the frontlines of poverty alleviation, the tangible achievements China has gained in 2018 also reflects the accuracy of the governing strategy made by Chinese leadership, and how the leadership has responded to people's needs.
 President Xi Jinping delivers New Year's greetings to residents of Zhanqi Village of Pidu District in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Feb. 12, 2018. /Xinhua Photo

 President Xi Jinping delivers New Year's greetings to residents of Zhanqi Village of Pidu District in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Feb. 12, 2018. /Xinhua Photo

In his speech, President Xi said that another 125 poor counties and 10 million poverty-stricken rural residents were lifted out of poverty this year. And it is planned that more measures will be made to raise another 10 million rural residents out of poverty in 2019.
China's efforts for poverty alleviation are also recognized by the international community. According to a UN report, China has contributed to over 70 percent of the poverty reduction across the world, making itself a country with the most people lifted out of poverty in the world and the first developing country to reach the poverty reduction goal.
“Our people are the country's solid foundation and our main source of confidence to govern,” stated President Xi. It is exactly the hard work and sweat of Chinese people in the past 40 years after China's reform and opening-up that has remade the country. In the past four decades, China has transformed itself from a poor country to the world's second largest economy with more than 740 million people being lifted out of poverty. China's total trade volume of import and export goods has also risen by more than three trillion U.S. dollars.
“China's reforms will never stop, and its doors will only open wider,” said President Xi. The narrative has been reiterated many times by him on various occasions. This was shown at the world's first-ever import expo held in Shanghai this year, and tariff cuts for 1,585 taxable imported items.
The first China International Import Expo was held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10, 2018. /VCG Photo

The first China International Import Expo was held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10, 2018. /VCG Photo

A people-oriented domestic development approach does not mean, however, a China-focused foreign policy. 2018 has seen multilateralism being threatened, protectionism on the rise, power shifting in the Middle East, the rise of populism in Europe, and economic development at stake in many emerging markets. As a major responsible country, China's answer to these challenges is mutual benefits. China made its own way to development, not only by its own efforts, but also by relying on world prosperity to deliver more achievements.
China has repeatedly headed for cooperation and multilateralism, safeguarding the achievements of international cooperation gained in the past years and providing more of its proposals and wisdom to the world on different occasions such as the Boao Forum for Asia conference and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Qingdao Summit. As China is “running at full speed towards the realization of our dreams,” it is also inviting other countries to share in its development results.
Looking forward, President Xi stated that opportunities and challenges would coexist in 2019. In a period of “major change never seen in a century,” President Xi has offered a way to transform challenges into opportunities. He's encouraged people to “work together shoulder to shoulder” to “safeguard world peace and promote common development.” Chinese people have a tradition of being optimistic and hopeful, having experienced its share of hardship and tribulation throughout its history. Even when faced with uncertainty and risks, China will turn the page to embrace a fuller year. President Xi's speech has helped us get off to a good start.
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