Xi's New Year speech signals China's role in global governance
By Rabi Sankar Bosu
English poet T.S. Eliot wrote in his poem, "Little Gidding," "For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice." He wanted to mean that the New Year demands a new voice for a more prosperous and peaceful future. And truly, the whole world heard the new "inspiring and practical" voice from Chinese President Xi Jinping's New Year address for 2018 on December 31, 2017, on the eve of the New Year, which seemed peaceful and encouraging to the whole world community. The world is so big and faces so many problems, and the international community also wants to hear China's voice and see China's solutions for major issues faced by the world in times of change.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year speech to extend New Year greetings to all Chinese, and best wishes to friends all over the world, in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 31, 2017.[Photo: Xinhua]
Undoubtedly, Xi, in his first New Year address of his second-five year term, presented the rest of the world what China is expecting in 2018. He unequivocally said China will have a "say" on all major international issues and actively push its Belt and Road initiative, and always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development, and keeper of international order. Indeed, Xi's speech boldly announced "as a responsible major country, China has something to say."
Since Xi was elected as president, he has given a New Year speech for five consecutive years. Surely, "Poverty alleviation" was an important highlight of Xi's address. Xi's speech signals China's road for the future with a determination to finally eradicate poverty by 2020.
He announced that more than 10 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty in 2017 with the goal of upgrading 6 million housing units in run-down areas being realized in advance. The Chinese leader promised that China would continue on its path of development and poverty elimination. "It is our solemn commitment to lift all rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty by 2020. Once made, a promise is as weighty as a thousand ounces of gold," he said. In this context, it can be firmly said that China's eventual farewell to poverty for good will be a landmark event of great significance in the entirety of human history.
There is no doubt that 2017 was "a landmark year in the development of the Communist Party of China and the country, with remarkable achievements fulfilled in all areas of socialism with Chinese characteristics." In his address, President Xi reviewed the achievements of China in 2017 which have a profound impact on the whole world.
As the world experienced a zigzag economic recovery, China witnessed a smooth economic development with an estimated GDP growth of 6.9 % in 2017, and China's supply-side structural reform had greatly improved the development efficiency and quality, backing up a promising market. Over 13 million new job opportunities were created in urban and rural areas.
In his address in 2017, President Xi touched upon an array of topics, including politics, scientific achievements, space and engineering achievements, and economic reforms, with special mention of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, among others.
In the past year, China has made progress in all its undertakings, especially in its mega-projects, such as the new Beijing Daxing Airport, which will be the largest in the world upon completion in 2019, and the cross-border sea-crossing Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which, being the world's longest of its kind, has been finished.
On May 5, 2017, the successful maiden flight of 'Made in China' passenger jet C919 heralded China's first major step towards challenging the West's air supremacy. In September, China launched its new generation bullet train "Fuxing" which has a top speed of 400km/h, and covers the journey between Beijing and Shanghai in less than 4.5 hours. On December 24, the successful maiden flight of the AG600, codenamed "Kunlong," the world's largest amphibious aircraft in production, made China among the few countries capable of developing a large seaplane. He also mentioned how China's space program soared to new heights making history with the launch of the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope into space. All these engineering achievements reflected China's technological prowess in recent years.
It is worth mentioning that the most important event for China was the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), held in October 2017. It established the historical position of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as the guideline for the Party and put China on a new journey towards national rejuvenation.
Xi's New Year speech suggests 2018 will be the first full year for implementing the great reform and development plans adopted at the 19th Party Congress, which outlines China's desired development blueprint over the next three decades. The great plans will be of no avail without solid implementation. Accordingly, Xi indicated that reform must be further carried out in 2018, as to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the start of the reform and opening-up policy this year. Reform and opening-up is the path China must take to make progress in national socio-economic development and to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
Xi said China's great achievement of development was made by the people and for the people. Indeed, without the great contributions of all these ordinary Chinese people, the extraordinary transformation of China during the past four decades couldn't have happened. As such, Xi urged, "That is why we should strengthen our sense of responsibility and do a good job of ensuring the people's well-being."
President Xi Jinping made it clear in his New Year address that China will actively promote international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative, and continue to take an active part in reforming and developing the global governance system. Undoubtedly, after the 19th Party Congress, the Belt and Road Initiative becomes the foundation of China's foreign policy.
In this context, it can be said that India needs to understand the essence of the Belt and Road initiative. By not joining, India is missing out an opportunity for economic development. India needs to look beyond the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and embrace the opportunity for coordinated regional development.
In his speech, he mentioned the Davos World Economic Forum, the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, the CPC in Dialogue with the World's Political Parties High-level Meeting, the G20 Summit and the APEC summit, which indicate China's emergence as a global governance leader. But interestingly, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was not mentioned in his report.
In summation, President Xi's inspiring message has injected a great sense of confidence and optimism to the 1.3 billion-plus Chinese people and to the world. China is eager to build world peace, to contribute to world development, to maintain international order, and to strive for mutually beneficial relationships among world players without conflict or confrontation.
In these uncertain times, our world needs the effective leadership of President Xi Jinping. Undoubtedly, Xi's remarks about upholding the authority and status of the United Nations, his commitment to the climate change accord and free trade, and his vision of community with a shared future for humanity indicate China's resolve to shoulder greater responsibilities in the global economic and political system.
(Rabi Sankar Bosu, Secretary, New Horizon Radio Listeners' Club, based in West Bengal, India)