BEIJING, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday gave a heart-warming speech to see off the "exceptionally significant" year of 2021, acknowledging a series of landmark events and countless "unsung heroes" behind China's march toward great rejuvenation.
In the nationally televised and livestreamed speech to ring in 2022, Xi praised anti-virus workers, people who emerged from natural disasters to rebuild their homes and military personnel protecting the country.
The hard work and dedication of the unsung heroes "have all added to the great momentum of China's march forward in the new era," Xi said in his office in central Beijing.
The Chinese president also saluted numerous dream-chasers who were keeping up their good work as he spoke. He mentioned three Chinese astronauts on duty in outer space and people posted to diplomatic missions and businesses abroad as well as overseas Chinese students who are bravely holding on.
In his speech, Xi reviewed the landmark events in the past year.
China has realized its first centenary goal -- building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Poverty eradication is considered the "bottom-line task" in attaining this milestone development goal.
It was announced earlier in 2021 that China has scored a "complete victory" in its fight against poverty. Over the past eight years, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line had all been lifted out of poverty.
Realization of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and elimination of extreme poverty is what the Communist Party of China (CPC) has delivered to the people, and it is also a contribution to the world, Xi said.
"Having worked in the countryside myself, I know precisely what poverty feels like," he said, adding that those who once lived in poverty no longer have to worry about food or clothing, or access to education, housing and medical insurance thanks to the sustained efforts of the Chinese people from generation to generation.
"The concerns of the people are what I always care about, and the aspirations of the people are what I always strive for," Xi said.
Shi Jintong, Party chief of Shibadong Village in central China's Hunan Province, said the eradication of absolute poverty at the village is just one step forward in local people's pursuit of a happy life.
The village is where Xi first proposed the "targeted poverty alleviation" idea during his visit in 2013.
Encouraged by the president's New Year address, Shi said he will work even harder to improve people's wellbeing.
In 2021, China has also led the world in economic development and COVID-19 prevention and control.
Wang Xun, a doctor in Wuhan, which was once hit hard by the virus, said she is much more optimistic about the future having emerged from the epidemic.
"Nothing could beat us the Chinese," she said. "By strictly following the Party's leadership and putting in place coronavirus containment measures, we are sure to overcome all obstacles."
In his speech, Xi highlighted the CPC's centenary celebration on July 1, and the Party's third resolution on historical issues adopted at the sixth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee in November.
The Chinese president said the country is making confident strides on the path toward great rejuvenation, but to realize the goal will be no easy task like a walk in the park.
"Only through vigorous and determined endeavor can we fulfill our responsibility to history, prove worthy of our times and live up to people's expectations," Xi said.
The Chinese president also said the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao is always close to the heart of the motherland, and the complete reunification of our motherland is an aspiration shared by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
"I sincerely hope that all the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation will join forces to create a brighter future for our nation," Xi said.
READY FOR 2022 WINTER GAMES
Xi confirmed in his speech that China has fulfilled the promise of providing 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the world.
To date, the country has provided 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, which has won plaudits from foreign leaders and heads of international organizations, Xi said.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China is now the biggest provider of outbound COVID-19 vaccines among all countries and has also provided about 372 billion masks, over 4.2 billion protective suits and over 8.4 billion testing kits to the international community.
Mentioning the upcoming Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Xi said that greater public involvement in winter sports also contributes to the Olympic Movement.
"We will spare no effort to present a great Games to the world. The world is turning its eyes to China, and China is ready," he said.
China has made ready all competition venues, and unveiled the torch, official motto and medals for the Games. Test events have also been successfully held, according to Zhao Lijian, a foreign ministry spokesperson.
Listening attentively to Xi's speech, Ma Shuling, a Beijing community-based volunteer promoting public awareness of the Games, said she felt truly proud of the motherland.
"Wish the upcoming Winter Olympics a complete success and good results for all the athletes," she said.