Chinese leaders offered their Spring Festival greetings to the nation at a gathering to mark the coming Lunar New Year here Saturday.
President Hu Jintao chaired the gathering of more than 4,000 people from various sections of society.
On behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council, Hu, who is general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, conveyed festival greetings to all Chinese people and his thanks to the friends of China across the world.
Premier Wen Jiabao, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a speech.
2008 was an extraordinary year for China, in which the country succeeded in fighting the severe winter weather, the May 12 earthquake, in hosting the Beijing Olympics and launching the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft and actively coping with the current international financial crisis, he said.
Chinese leaders attend a grand gathering held at the Great Hall of the People to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year, and extend festival greetings to the Chinese people in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 24, 2009.(Xinhua/Liu Jiansheng)
The achievements "demonstrated that no difficulty could defeat the great Chinese people and the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics will be broadened," he said.
The country will embrace the 60th founding anniversary of new China in 2009, Wen said.
Priority should be given to maintaining stable and relatively fast economic growth this year. This will be achieved through expanding domestic demand especially consumption demand, restructuring the economy and transforming the growth pattern, he said.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (2nd R) talks to people from all walks of life at a grand gathering held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 24, 2009. Chinese leaders attended the grand gathering here on Saturday to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year, and extend festival greetings to the Chinese people.(Xinhua Photo)
All will ultimately target maximally satisfying people's increasing material and cultural needs, he added.
In 2009, China will enhance and improve macroeconomic control efforts and carry out an active fiscal policy, as well as a moderately easy monetary policy, he said.
"We have the confidence and the ability to overcome various difficulties and achieve further development," he added.
The government will pool strength of the nation to do some practical things for the people, including expanding employment, improving the social security system, promoting medicare system reform, enhancing development of the cultural industry, and ensuring smooth rebuilding in disaster-hit areas, he said.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speaks at a grand gathering held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 24, 2009. Chinese leaders attended a grand gathering at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 26 this year. (Xinhua/Fan Rujun)
The government will also strive to solve people's housing difficulties and to provide satisfactory education that ensures no child drops out of school because of financial difficulties, he said.
Other leaders, including Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, also attended the gathering.
Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important traditional Chinese festival of family reunion. It falls on Jan. 26 this year. Source: Xinhua