Combo photo shows the debut ceremony of China's sci-tech innovation board (STAR market) at the Shanghai Stock Exchange in Shanghai, east China on July 22, 2019 (L, top); customers trying on 5G cloud-based virtual reality (VR) device at a business hall of China Telecom Beijing Branch in Beijing on Oct. 31, 2019 (R, top); an aerial view of the resettlement site for poverty relief relocation in Silin Township of Tiandong County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Aug. 28, 2019 (L, bottom) and an aerial view of container freight dock at Jingtang port area of Tangshan Port, north China's Hebei Province on Aug. 15, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)
The year 2019 was fraught with hardships, but harvests also abounded.
"In 2019, we sweated and we toiled as we pressed ahead with concrete efforts for achievements," President Xi Jinping on Dec. 31 delivered a New Year speech in Beijing, summarizing the progress made in 2019.
The Chinese economy has navigated through choppy waters of protectionism and unilateralism as well as domestic structural problems. When the global economy is going through a "synchronized slowdown" as the International Monetary Fund has warned, China has maintained stable growth and remains a stabilizer in the global economy.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to near 100 trillion yuan (14.37 trillion U.S. dollars) while its per capita GDP is expected to reach 10,000 U.S. dollars in 2019, Xi noted in the speech.
A glimpse of China's progress could give the world, especially developing countries, more reasons to be confident in meeting challenges posed by poverty, lack of education, public health risks and climate change on the way to modernization.
Notably, in the first 10 months, China created 11.93 million new jobs in urban areas, higher than the 11 million annual employment target. Stable employment means stable expectations for better lives.
In its final battle against absolute poverty, the government is helping people get rid of poverty in more precise and smart ways. In the past year, more than 10 million people shook off poverty, the latest evidence that China will not leave a single-family behind on the way to complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
The absolute poverty that has plagued the Chinese nation for thousands of years is about to end in 2020, a miracle in global poverty reduction history. The year of 2019 also saw the rapid implementation of regional development plans including ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River basin, coordinated development of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta.
The income of rural residents grew remarkably faster than that of urban dwellers. A well-off society is built and shared by all.
The opening-up quickened. China lowered import tariffs and expanded its free trade zones, making the economy connected with the outside more easily. It held the second China International Import Expo and the second Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation, showing sincerity in delivering the promise of opening its door wider to the outside world and realizing win-win cooperation.
China remains stable, productive and increasingly prosperous to fuel global growth. It owes this to the significant advantages of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In a country with a big population base, a super-large territory and a long history, the Communist Party of China (CPC) unites the nation and pools resources to achieve the first centenary goal, an important milestone in the journey of national rejuvenation.
China is confident in its ability to overcome any difficulties with wisdom and strength. It boasts solid material and technical foundation accumulated since the reform and opening up in 1978. With the world's biggest middle-income population, the country's market advantage and domestic demand provide unparalleled space to promote structural reform. China has nearly 900 million working-age population and the world's biggest research and development group, the most precious engine for sustainable and healthy development.
But it is wise to keep a sober mind: the test and the risks on the way forward will only become more and more complicated, and China will inevitably encounter rough seas. The struggles are not short-term, but will go through the entire process of achieving China's second centenary goal by the middle of the 21st century.
The country's will to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests are strong. It brooks no interference from any external forces.
Noting that there are both peaceful and eventful times in history, Xi said that "we are not afraid of winds and rains, or any kind of difficulties."
The People's Republic of China, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in October, is not only catching up but also leading the times. It will be the first time in human history for a country with more than 1 billion people to complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. And China is setting this milestone.