The people -- never absent in Xi's New Year addresses
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year address Saturday evening in Beijing to ring in 2023. [Xinhua/Ju Peng]
BEIJING -- When President Xi Jinping's New Year address was televised on Saturday to ring in 2023, the photos placed on the bookshelf behind him once again caught the eye of the public, as in previous years.
Along with the pictures of Xi at important events in 2022 and personal ones with his family were three photos showing him talking with villagers in north China, standing with a cheerful crowd in Xinjiang, and checking apples with farmers in a northwestern orchard.
The president standing among ordinary people is a familiar theme of the photos on the bookshelf and the phrase -- "the people" -- has appeared in Xi's 10 New Year addresses on a total of nearly 90 occasions.
Over the past 10 years in his addresses, Xi mentioned deliverymen, taxi drivers and medical workers, expressed concerns about the lives of millions of poor rural people, and applauded the devotion of unsung heroes and the extraordinary achievements of ordinary people.
On New Year's Eve, he expressed concern for what the people experienced in the face of surging COVID-19 infections, stressing that it has not been an easy journey for anyone. He said that everyone is holding on with great fortitude, and encouraged them to make an extra effort to pull through, with "the light of hope right in front of us."
Shi Basan, a resident of the ethnic Miao village of Shibadong tucked away in the mountains of central China's Hunan Province, was a main figure in a picture that appeared on the bookshelf when Xi delivered the New Year address to ring in 2018.
The picture of Xi holding the hand of Shi was taken in 2013 during Xi's inspection tour in Hunan. When Xi walked into Shi's home, she welcomed him with the question -- "What should I call you?"
"I am a servant of the people," Xi had replied, greeting Shi as an elder sister.
Since that year, Shi has watched the televised New Year address every year.
"So many years have passed, but my heart is always warmed up when I think about the moment when the president called me an elder sister," Shi said.
Also in that year, Shibadong -- where 57 percent of its residents had lived below the poverty line -- began to change due to the country's targeted poverty elimination programs.
Used to living in a dilapidated house, Shi now greets tourists from across the country in her renovated new home, while the television on which she watched the New Year address on Saturday evening, is the third TV she has bought during the past decade.
In his first New Year address as the Chinese president on Dec. 31, 2013, Xi admitted that "a huge amount of work" needed to be done to ensure a better life for the people.
On the New Year's Eve of 2015, Xi pledged to continue with efforts to act upon people's expectations and to turn their aspirations into reality.
In his New Year address to welcome 2021, Xi said proudly that China has secured a great historic achievement for fully building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and a decisive victory in poverty eradication.
In 2020, all of China's nearly 100 million impoverished rural residents, living below the poverty line, had shaken off poverty in the eight years of a national anti-poverty campaign led by Xi, and all 832 poor counties had been lifted out of poverty.
On Saturday evening when reviewing the year 2022, Xi said the Chinese economy had remained the second largest in the world and had enjoyed sound development. He added that the gains in poverty elimination had been consolidated, while rural revitalization was advanced across the board and active efforts were made to solve the most pressing difficulties of high concern to the people.
China today is a country where dreams become reality, a country brimming with vigor and vitality, a country that keeps to its national character and is closely linked with the world, he announced.
He also expressed a vision of China's future: a country that performs miracles through hard work, draws its strength from unity, and has great expectations of its younger generation.
"President Xi's New Year address is inspiring and powerful," said Zhang Jin, president of Siasun Robot and Automation Co. Ltd. based in northeast China's Liaoning Province. "As a hi-tech firm, we will be brave in pursuit of innovation, in order to remove more technological bottlenecks."
Back in Shibadong, 26-year-old Shi Kang, one of the village youngsters returning home to start a business, felt the weight of Xi's address, as the president called on the young people to step forward and take on their responsibilities to develop China.
"As a young man in the new era, I must be strict with myself, embrace the fighting spirit of the older generation, and devote the best of me to rural revitalization," he said.
As President Xi believes and declared in his address -- when 1.4 billion Chinese work with one heart and one mind and stand in unity with a strong will, no task will be impossible and no difficulty insurmountable.
The views don't necessarily reflect those of Qiushi Journal.