|Chinese President Xi Jinping extends New Year greetings to all Chinese compatriots and people around the world in his New Year speech in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 31, 2016. President Xi said 2016 was an extraordinary year for China as it achieved progress in every aspect, and urged the international community to join hands to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.(Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)|
"There is no such thing as a free lunch, and only hard work will make dreams come true," Chinese President Xi Jinping said Saturday in his fourth New Year speech, which has aroused heated discussion and spread inspiration and confidence across the nation.
Poverty alleviation, a buzzword in 2016, was among the highlights of the speech of Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
For Meng Dongling, a villager in Lankao County, central China's Henan Province, the year meant a lot and Xi's words strengthened her confidence in a better life.
A local poverty alleviation team helped coordinate a loan of 50,000 yuan (about 7,200 U.S. dollars) for her, which was mainly used to build a greenhouse.
"General Secretary Xi said 'no one should be left behind in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects'," Meng said.
"When the new vegetables go on sale, I will earn about 10,000 yuan. That will take my annual earnings up to at least 60,000 yuan," she said. "The days ahead are promising and I have more confidence in a prosperous life."
Although 10 million people were lifted out of poverty in 2016, Xi said what he cared most about was poor people, and it is the duty of the Party and the government to address people's difficulties in employment, education, health care, and housing, among others.
"The president cares about our food, housing and whether we can enjoy New Year and Spring Festival holidays," said Liu Yangshun, a retired forestry worker in Yichun, a city in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, where lumber industry is feeling the effects of a full ban of logging.
Xi visited Liu's home in the spring of 2016, encouraging employees to seek new ways to make a living through their own determination and resources.
"After the president's visit, my family began to run a farm restaurant, which help increase our income by about 100,000 yuan," Liu said, emphasizing that with the care of the Party and the government, his life was getting better and better.
In his speech, Xi touched on many scientific and technological achievements made in 2016, when the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) was put into use, and Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) Satellite "Wukong" has been in operation in orbit for a year.
Xi's interest in the field inspired Li Jian, head of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC).
"We have made a series of breakthroughs this year and established a set of regulations as well as a quality guarantee system. We have also built a young and capable team," Li said.
"We are committed to making China a space and innovation power," he said.
In his speech, Xi also voiced China's wish for peaceful development and assured territorial integrity. "Chinese people will never allow anyone to get away with making a great fuss about it!"
His words resonate with Tang Bo, a member of the navy participating in a drill with aircraft carrier Liaoning.
"Pursuing our dream and sharpening the sword in the ocean is the best way for the navy to celebrate the New Year," said Tang, who watched the speech via satellite. "We must make strenuous efforts to improve our ability to shield our country from invasion."
The president's vivid and unadorned call for all the Chinese to "roll up our sleeves to work harder" also struck a chord with many, especially the young, in the country.
"General Secretary Xi sent a congratulatory message to us just days ago when our company's new coal-to-liquid facility was put into operation," said 27-year-old Cui Beiyuan, a worker of the Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group.
"We're honored, while knowing our job bears heavy responsibilities," Cui said."It is a historic mission for my generation to embark on the road of a new Long March and work for the realization of the Chinese dream."