Xi Jinping bids farewell to 2017 with New Year’s Eve pledge to defend international rules
Chinese president says work still to be done for the public in education and health
Chinese President Xi Jinping used his New Year’s Eve address to promote the country as a defender of international rules and to highlight the ongoing need to lift living standards.
In a 10-minute address on Sunday, Xi touted the country’s achievements in science, defence and diplomacy in 2017 and pledged to turn his national blueprint for the next three decades into reality.
He also highlighted his trip to Hong Kong for the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover, saying that with mainland support the city would continue to enjoy long-term stability and prosperity.
Xi’s commitments come after a year in which his governance theory was enshrined in his name in the Communist Party’s charter at its five-yearly national congress, consolidating the president’s power.
He has also sought to frame himself as a transformative leader by promoting a “new era” for China on his watch, with 2018 the start of “comprehensively carrying out the spirit of the 19th party congress”.
“We will take the opportunity to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up in 2018 to further carry out reform,” Xi said, referring to the start of a series of economic overhauls led by late leader Deng Xiaoping.
He said China would continue to defend the authority of the United Nations, stand by its climate change promises and advance the “Belt and Road Initiative”, a programme to link China to Africa and Europe through trade and infrastructure.
“Various parties hope for peace and development for humanity, but they also have worries and look forward to China declaring its stand,” Xi said. “China, as a big nation with responsibility, also has things to say.”
Addressing general living standards, Xi said the country made major gains in jobs, social security coverage and poverty eradication in 2017.
But the public still faced problems in some areas, including education and health care, he said.
Xi highlighted plans to rid the country of poverty by 2020, urging all to play a part in the campaign.
“People have gained a lot [in the past], but also have many things that concern them,” Xi said.
“Our livelihood work has not been enough in quite a few places … Party committees, governments and cadres of all levels must always have the people’s security … in mind.”