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2020 TO HAVE 'MILESTONE SIGNIFICANCE'

China's GDP is expected to edge close to 100 trillion yuan ($14.3 trillion) with the per capita figure reaching $10,000, President Xi Jinping said in his New Year's speech on Tuesday.

Xi highlighted the steady progress of the country's high-quality development in 2019 in his speech and extended his New Year's wishes for 2020.

"The year 2020 will be a year of milestone significance," Xi said, noting that the country will complete its task of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and secure a decisive victory in eliminating poverty.

About 340 impoverished counties and more than 10 million people were lifted from poverty in 2019. Xi vowed in his speech to do the same for all poverty-stricken rural residents and to eliminate poverty in all impoverished counties in 2020.

Saying China continues to embrace the world in 2019, Xi noted that the number of countries that China has established diplomatic relations with has reached 180. "We have friends all over the world."

Xi reiterated China's commitment to peaceful development and said the country will unswervingly uphold world peace and promote common development.

Human history, like a river, runs forever, he said, witnessing both peaceful moments and great disturbances. "We are not afraid of storms and dangers and barriers."

China is willing to join hands with all countries in the world to jointly build the Belt and Road, to push forward the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and to make unremitting efforts for the creation of a beautiful future for humanity, he said.

Xi spoke of attending the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the return of Macao Special Administrative Region to the motherland on December 20 and said Macao's success indicates that the principle of "one country, two systems" is fully applicable, achievable and popular.

He extended his best wishes to compatriots of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and said, "In recent months, our hearts have been concerned about the situation in Hong Kong."

"Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can people live in peace and enjoy their work?" he said.

"We sincerely hope for the best for Hong Kong and Hong Kong compatriots.

"Hong Kong's prosperity and stability is the wish of Hong Kong compatriots and the expectation of the people of our motherland."

Xi spoke of several significant achievements during 2019, such as China's lunar probe Chang'e 4 landing on the far side of the Moon, the launch of the Long March 5 Y3 rocket, the opening of Beijing Daxing International Airport and the commercial application of 5G technology.

He said coordinated regional development further accelerated in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Yangtze River Delta.

Behind China's development in all sectors is its continuous reform and opening-up, Xi said, citing several examples of progress, from reform of Party and government institutions to the establishment of Free Trade Zones, from cuts of more than 2 trillion yuan in tax and other miscellaneous fees to lower costs for medicine and cheaper and faster internet connections.

While praising the country's steady progress in the reform of national defense and military systems in 2019, Xi mentioned the first domestically built aircraft carrier commissioned two weeks ago in Hainan province.

Xi's heart is also with those ordinary people whose deeds touched him.

In his speech, he mentioned a number of ordinary names, including Zhang Fuqing, who has kept a low profile despite the great contributions he has made to the nation, and Huang Wenxiu, who dedicated her youth and life to poverty alleviation.

He also mentioned his inspection tour and his interactions with people from all walks of life, including the ethnic Derung people in mountainous area of Yunnan province and villagers of Xiadang township in Fujian province. All of them were poverty-stricken and were lifted from poverty last year.

President Xi Jinping delivers his New Year's speech from his office in Beijing. Xi highlighted the steady progress of the country's high-quality development in 2019 in his speech and extended his New Year's wishes for 2020.

 

PRESIDENT DETAILS GOALS FOR CPPCC

China will fully implement a new development philosophy, continue to deepen reform and opening-up, and ensure the sustained and healthy growth of its economy and the stability of its society, President Xi Jinping said onTuesday.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark while addressing a New Year's gathering held by the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing.

The year 2020 will mark the successful conclusion of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-20) and reaching the country's first centenary goal will be a glorious mission, he said.

Xi stressed the importance of following the general principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability and making comprehensive efforts to maintain stable growth, advance reform, make structural adjustments, improve living standards and guard against risks.

We must have a clear victory in the fight against poverty, he said.

The president reiterated pledges to continue the policies of "one country, two systems," "the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong," "the people of Macao governing Macao," and a high degree of autonomy for both regions so as to ensure their long-term prosperity and stability.

It is important to adhere to the one-China principle and move forward with the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations on the basis of the 1992 Consensus, he said.

China will hold high the banners of peace, development, cooperation and win-win outcomes, step up international exchanges and cooperation, actively promote the Belt and Road Initiative and make new contributions to the great cause of world peace and development, he said.

Xi noted that the 46 key reform agendas and another 61 reform tasks laid out by the Central Committee for Deepening Overall Reform have been completed, while a total of 178 reforms have been carried out by central government departments.

For the new year, the CPPCC should focus its main task on helping the country realize its two centenary goals, center its efforts on stepping up political guidance and creating consensuses to transform the systematic strength of the political advisory body into efficiency of national governance, he said.

 

CHINA AND IRAN TO STRENGTHEN COOPERATION

China and Iran said they will strengthen cooperation to implement the Iran nuclear deal and uphold multilateralism, as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited China for the fourth time in 2019.

When meeting Zarif in Beijing on Tuesday, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the deal faces serious challenges, and the root cause of tensions is that the United States withdrew unilaterally from the deal, gave up its due international obligations and applied maximum pressure on Iran.

The deal, which has been endorsed by a United Nations Security Council resolution, is an important outcome of multilateral diplomacy, Wang said, adding that to maintain its authority and validity is to maintain multilateralism, international law and basic norms that guide international relations.

China supports all kinds of constructive efforts that help ease tensions and uphold the deal, and hopes parties involved will continue to implement the deal effectively by sticking to the right direction, standing up against external pressure and settling differences through talks, Wang said.

Also, China will firmly safeguard international fairness and justice, oppose any kind of unilateral behavior or bullying, and work for political and diplomatic resolutions to the Iran nuclear issue, Wang added.

Wang said he hopes to work with Zarif to implement the consensus reached by the top leaders of China and Iran and consolidate political mutual trust and deepen pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.

Zarif praised China's role in maintaining the Iran nuclear deal, and briefed Wang on Iran's talks with Russia and Europe over the Iran nuclear issue.

Iran hopes to keep close contact with China to uphold multilateralism, oppose unilateralism and take effective measures to safeguard the deal as well as its own legitimate interests, Zarif said, adding that Iran greatly values its ties with China.

The meeting came after China, Russia and Iran started a joint military exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Friday. The exercise lasted until Monday.

Tensions in the Persian Gulf region have risen since the US announced in May 2018 it was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Iran, in spite of opposition from the other parties to the dealIran, China, France, Germany, Russia and Britain.

 

THE DREAM OF ERADICATING POVERTY ABOUT TO BE REALIZED

When China pledged that it would lift all Chinese people out of absolute poverty by 2020, many doubted whether it would be able to realize the goal because, to the uninitiated, it was a task unachievable. Today, China is on the verge of achieving that goal.

China has already lifted out of poverty close to 800 million people – more than the total population of Latin America or the European Union — since the launch of reform and opening-up.

And as President Xi Jinping said in his New Year's address: "2020 will be a year of milestone significance. We will finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and realize the first centenary goal. 2020 will also be a year of decisive victory for the elimination of poverty."

That China's transformation has been driven by its political commitment and effective policy measures has been recognized by such international organizations as the United Nations, especially the UN Development Programme. The efforts of governments at all levels, from provinces and municipalities to counties and villages, to eradicate poverty have allowed the implementation of pilot projects to address local problems on the ground through a targeted poverty alleviation program and achieve unprecedented results.

No wonder the share of China's population living in absolute poverty dropped from 97.5 percent in 1978 to just 1.7 percent in 2019, while its per capita income increased 20-fold during the same period. In fact, China is the only country to have risen from the low to high category on the UNDP's human development index.

This fact found echo in President Xi's speech. "In 2019, we sweated and we toiled as we pressed ahead with concrete efforts for achievements. Thanks to our steady pursuit of high-quality development, China’s GDP is expected to edge close to 100 trillion yuan (14.36 trillion) with the per capita figure reaching the level of $10,000."

China's success in fighting poverty can also be attributed to the adequate allocation of financial and human resources to poverty-alleviation programs, as well as massive investments in infrastructure to connect remote, impoverished areas to the rest of the country, which provided people better access to services and markets and helped them improve their incomes and lives.

In 2019 alone, China allocated 126 billion yuan to poverty reduction programs. And since 2017, it has dispatched about 775,000 civil servants to impoverished villages to support local officials in implementing specific poverty-alleviating measures at the household level while monitoring and reviewing the progress at every step.

Besides, China's people-centric approach to reducing poverty aligns with the global vision of leaving no one behind enshrined in the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals — to end poverty, reduce inequality and protect the planet.

 

WINNING A BATTLE IN WAR ON POVERTY

On Dec 23, many Chinese people felt excited and proud by the news that the local government in the Tibet autonomous region had decided to strip 19 counties of their poverty labels, after 55 Tibetan counties cast off such labels in 2018.

This means that the vast and sparsely populated region, known for its snowcapped mountains, roaming antelopes and yaks, no longer has counties with registered poverty rates of 3 percent or higher.

In the nationwide battle against absolute poverty, which picked up momentum in 2012, the central authorities created two major indexes to help track the progress.

One is the head count of rural poor, who are defined as people living on less than 2,300 yuan ($328) a year. The bench mark was set in 2011 and is adjusted annually for inflation. The other index involves counting the number of counties categorized as impoverished, which reflects the level of regional poverty.

By stripping the remaining 19 counties of the impoverished label, Tibet has made good progress in eliminating regional povertya giant leap toward the zero-poverty target.

"It was an iconic episode in the overall poverty reduction work in China," said Wang Sangui, a prominent rural affairs scholar and a professor at Renmin University of China. "Tibet used to be among the regions hardest hit by extreme poverty, and by delisting all its impoverished counties, China is a step closer to Xiaokang Shehui," he said, referring to the Communist Party's pledge to establish a moderately prosperous society in all respects before the celebration of its centenary in 2021.

With a population of 3.4 million people predominantly of ethnic Tibetan heritage, Tibet accounts for a majority of the Three Areas and Three Prefectures, jargon that officials use to refer to the deeply impoverished regions. The regions include Tibetan communities scattered across four provinces in western China, the southern part of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and three prefectures in Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

 

AT LEAST 20 HIGH-SPEED RAILWAYS EXPECTED TO OPEN IN 2020

At least 20 high-speed railways are expected to start operation in 2020, according to Economic View's calculation.

The Yinchuan-Xi'an high-speed railway is expected to open at the end of 2020. The trip between Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui autonomous region, and Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, will be shortened from 14 hours to 3 hours.

The Beijing-Shenyang high-speed railway, a line of around 698 kilometers, is expected to open at the end of 2020. Trips between Beijing and Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning province, will be halved to 2.5 hours.

The Taiyuan-Jiaozuo high-speed railway is expected to open in December 2020. The trip between Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi province, and Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan province, will halved to 2 hours.

The Weifang-Laixi high-speed railway is expected to open at the end of 2020 within East China's Shandong province. It will shorten the trip between the provincial capital Ji'nan and Yantai to 2 hours.

In 2019, more than 5,000 km of high-speed railways went into operation. The total length of China's high-speed railways has reached 35,000 km.

 

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