China held a meeting on Thursday morning to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its reform and opening-up drive, which turned the once poverty-stricken country into one of the world's largest economies.
Top leaders, including President Hu Jintao, attended the ceremony, which started at the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing at 10:00 a.m.
The celebration also drew nearly 6,000 Chinese from all walks of life.
In a speech at the ceremony, Hu said 30 years to the day witnessed the opening of the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
That meeting ushered in a new historic period of reform and opening-up, marking the most significant turning point in the Party's history since the New China was founded in 1949, he said.
By gathering here today to commemorate the 30th anniversary of that meeting, Hu said they are meant to fully recognize the significance and great achievements of the reforms, sum up experience, and continue to develop the country on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Hu said China's gross domestic product (GDP) kept growing at an annual rate of 9.8 per cent for three decades, more than three times the world average.
The President said China's GDP had soared from more than 360 billion yuan (about 52 billion U.S. dollars) in 1978 to 24950 billion yuan in 2007, making China become the world's fourth largest economy.
The past 30 years have been a period in which China's overall national strength has risen by a big margin, and the Chinese people have received more tangible benefits than ever before, he said.
The country has carried out extensive international exchanges and cooperation, through which China's economy was boosted, he said, adding in the process, China has also made important contribution to the world's economic development.
China's economic reforms started 30 years ago after the 10-yearCultural Revolution (1966-1976), which left the country on the verge of economic breakdown.
The decision to open up the once-secluded country and reform its moribund economy was made at the 3rd plenary session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which started on Dec. 18, 1978.
The date is commonly regarded as a watershed in China's development.