BEIJING, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping Sunday delivered a New Year speech, vowing that China would resolutely carry out reform in 2018.
"We will take the opportunity of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up in 2018 to further carry out reform, as reform and opening-up is the path we must take to make progress in contemporary China and to realize the Chinese dream," Xi said.
He cited a Chinese adage, saying that the Chinese people would "cut paths through mountains, and build bridges across rivers" to move forward on reform.
He extended New Year greetings to all Chinese, and best wishes to friends all over the world.
Xi said the year 2018 marked the first year of fully implementing "the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC)," which outlines China's desired development blueprint over the next three decades.
"Building a high-rise begins with mounds of soil," Xi said, borrowing an ancient Chinese phrase to urge his fellow Chinese to take a step-by-step approach and work hard to turn the blueprint into a reality.
Xi said that by 2020 all rural residents living below the current poverty line should have been lifted out of poverty. It will be the first time in China's thousands of years of history that extreme poverty is eliminated.
"It is our solemn promise," Xi said. "Only three years are left to 2020. Every one of us must be called to action, do our best, take targeted measures to secure victories one after another."
"This is a great cause, important to both the Chinese nation and humanity. Let's do it together and make it happen," he said.
Xi said China's great achievement of development was made by the people and for the people, and that among the people's most pressing concerns were education, employment, income, social security, health care, elderly care, housing and environmental protection.
The president admitted that there were areas where the government's work fell short of expectations. Though progress has been made, he said, issues of public concern remain.
"That is why we should strengthen our sense of responsibility, and do a good job of ensuring the people's well-being," Xi said. "The well-being of our people is the Party and the government's greatest political achievement. Our cadres should put the people's state of living at the heart, and help them live a better life."
On international affairs, Xi said the world expected to hear China's stance and attitude on issues concerning peace and development.
"As a responsible major country, China has something to say," Xi said.
"China will resolutely uphold the authority and status of the United Nations, actively fulfill China's international obligations and duties, remain firmly committed to China's pledges to tackle climate change, actively push for the Belt and Road Initiative, and always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and keeper of international order," he said. "The Chinese people are ready to chart out a more prosperous, peaceful future for humanity, with people from other countries."
Xi said the convening of the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017 had embarked China on a new journey to build a modern socialist country.
Stating the achievements China made in 2017, Xi said gross domestic product had risen to 80 trillion yuan (12.3 trillion U.S. dollars); over 13 million new jobs were created; 1.35 billion people were covered by basic medical insurance; and more than 10 million rural people were lifted out of poverty.
Xi said the people's sense of fulfillment, happiness and security had grown stronger, citing the improvement of people's livelihoods, and the ecological environment in the year.
"We have taken another great step in finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects," Xi said.
From the Chinese-produced large passenger jet C919 to the bullet train named Fuxing -- with a speed of 350 kilometers per hour, Xi said good news kept rolling-in on sci-tech innovation and major projects in 2017.
"I applaud the Chinese people for their great creativity," he said.
Xi also spoke of a grand military parade at the Zhurihe training base in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, held to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army; the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland; as well as a national memorial ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre.
Xi noted several multilateral diplomatic events held in China, including the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the BRICS Xiamen Summit and the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting.
Xi said that he had an in-depth exchange of views with concerted parties on different occasions, such as at the World Economic Forum in Davos and the G20 Summit in Hamburg.
"They are all in favor of the joint building of a community with a shared future for humanity so as to benefit people across the world," he said.
Xi said he had received letters from people of ethnic minority regions, professor and university students.
"Their patriotism made me feel that the ordinary people are the greatest, while happiness comes out of diligence," Xi said.