BEIJING: China begins 2003 more intertwined with the world than ever as it opens its economy to increasing foreign investment and finds its voice in international affairs, President Jiang Zemin said in a New Year’s message broadcast yesterday.
Jiang also aimed a similar message at other countries – that China is fast becoming indispensable to them as its awakening economy grows more powerful.
“China’s development is inseparable from the world’s, and the prosperity of the world also cannot be achieved without China,” Jiang said in the speech, quoted by the China Daily.
Jiang, poised to retire as president after having stepped down as Communist Party leader in November, also pledged that China “would continue to pursue an independent foreign policy of peace and push ahead with the great cause of world peace and development.”
Jiang’s address, delivered on Tuesday night, was carried on noon national newscasts in China yesterday.
New Year’s Day is not widely observed in China, where the Chinese New Year in early February is the season’s major holiday. Still, Jiang took the opportunity of a globally celebrated holiday to amplify his usual optimistic vision for China’s future.
He said the nation’s increasing stability and international presence will encourage its continuing economic openness and raise living standards for the country’s 1.3 billion people in 2003.
“So long as people and statesmen of all countries work hand in hand, think over the destiny of the world and the common interests of all countries and try to overcome difficulties with a positive attitude, mankind will have a bright future,” Jiang said.
He also wished Taiwan’s people a prosperous new year and said he hoped the “reunification of the motherland would be accomplished.” The mainland government regards Taiwan as part of its territory, although the island operates as an independent nation.
Many are watching China more closely than usual in 2003 because of a generational leadership shift expected to culminate in March with Jiang’s retirement as president and the ascension of Vice-President Hu Jintao to the post.
The 60-year-old Hu replaced Jiang as Communist Party general-secretary in November, part of a political transformation as China’s ruling party works to redefine itself and stay relevant in changing times – primarily by encouraging the growth of a hybrid “socialist market economy.”
But as 2003 dawns, Jiang retains great power – a fact reinforced by his dominant presence yesterday on TV newscasts and on the front pages of newspapers.
The party newspaper People’s Daily offered a more tempered vision of optimism for China in 2003 as it reflected on the year just ended. “Let’s Hail 2002, But With A Sombre Mind,” said a headline over commentary on its Website.
The coming year for China “is by no means an expressway,” People’s Daily Online warned, citing problems in instituting banking reform and the enlarging “disparity between the haves and have-nots.” – AP
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