The year 2020 is arriving. From China's capital Beijing, I would like to extend my New Year wishes to you all!
In 2019, we sweated and we toiled as we pressed ahead with concrete efforts for achievements. Thanks to our steady pursuit of high-quality development, China's GDP is expected to edge close to 100 trillion yuan with the per capita figure reaching the level of $10,000. Significant breakthroughs have been achieved in three tough battles. Coordinated development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and the Yangtze River Delta, all accelerated. Ecological protection and high-quality development in the Yellow River basin have become national strategies. About 340 impoverished counties and more than 10 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Our lunar probe Chang'e-4, for the first time in human history, landed on the far side of the moon; the Long March-5 Y3 rocket was successfully launched; the Xuelong 2 icebreaker set sail on its maiden voyage to the Antarctic; the construction of the global network of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System is sprinting toward the finish line; the commercial application of 5G technology is accelerating; the Beijing Daxing International Airport "phoenix" spread its wings… All these achievements are the result of the efforts and sweat of those who strive in the new era, and they demonstrate extraordinary Chinese splendor and Chinese strength.
Over the past year, reform and opening up has continuously generated vigor for development. The reform of Party and government institutions has been successfully completed. We have set up another batch of pilot free trade zones, and expanded the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. The Science and Technology Innovation Board was launched smoothly. We have cut taxes and fees by more than 2 trillion yuan, and raised the individual income tax threshold. Many types of commonly used medicines have seen their prices drop, while cheaper and faster Internet connection has enabled faster flow of information. Garbage sorting is leading the new trend of a low-carbon lifestyle. This year we have also streamlined the work of officials at the grassroots level. New changes are taking place everywhere and the country is taking on a fresh look.
Over the past year, we have steadily pushed forward reforms in our national defense and military systems. The armed forces have taken on a new look of a strong army in the new era. We held a grand military parade on National Day, celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Navy and the Air Force, and also hosted the Seventh Military World Games. The country's first self-developed aircraft carrier was commissioned. The people's army will always serve as a great wall of steel that guards our motherland. Let's salute those loyal soldiers who safeguard our home.
The most memorable moment of 2019 was the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. We cheered for the glorious achievements the People’s Republic has made over the past 70 years, and were overwhelmed by the sheer force of patriotism. The formations during the military parade were powerful, and the mass pageant thrilling. Tiananmen Square was turned into a sea of happiness. All of China was arrayed in red with proud smiles on all faces as the song My Motherland and I played throughout the streets and alleys. Patriotic feelings brought tears to our eyes, and patriotic spirit forms the backbone of the Chinese nation. All these merge into a surging current that sings an ode to New China and inspires us to work harder in the new era, filling us with boundless energy.
Over the past year, I have visited many places. Construction of Xiongan New Area is progressing, Tianjin Port is booming, Beijing's sub-center is thriving, grasslands in Inner Mongolia are splendid, the Hexi Corridor, after thousands of years, is teeming with new life. The winding Yellow River, where the sky is high and waters are wide, sometimes turbulent, sometimes calm; on both banks of the Huangpu River, there is plenty and prosperity, and ribbons of light shine in the night. Everything is flourishing across our motherland. I traced the routes of China's revolution to strengthen my original aspiration. From Yudu in Jiangxi Province where the Red Army gathered for their Long March, to the Revolution Museum in Xinxian County in Henan Province, the former capital of the Hubei-Henan-Anhui revolutionary base, from the Monument to the West Route Army in Gaotai, Gansu Province, to the revolutionary memorial site in the Fragrant Hills in Beijing, all these places aroused many feelings and thoughts in my mind. Our original aspiration and mission are our inexhaustible source of motivation during our Long March of the new era.
As usual, no matter how busy I was, I spent time visiting people in the countryside. People shared many of their innermost thoughts with me, and I always keep them in mind. I have also received letters from villagers of the Dulong ethnic group in Gongshan, Yunnan Province; residents of Xiadang Township, Shouning County in Fujian Province; soldiers of the Wang Jie Squad; the graduate students of the Class of Champions at Beijing Sport University; and children and senior volunteers from Macao. In my reply letters, I applauded the achievements they had made and sent my best wishes.
Over the past year, many people and their stories touched us deeply. Zhang Fuqing has kept a low profile and stayed true to his original heart despite the great contributions he's made to the nation; Huang Wenxiu dedicated her youth and life to poverty alleviation; 31 fire fighters sacrificed their lives in the line of duty in Muli, Sichuan Province; Du Fuguo sacrificed himself to protect his teammates; and China's Women's National Volleyball Team won the World Cup in an 11-match winning streak. Numerous unsung heroes, with neither complaint nor regret, with dedication. Ordinary people living extraordinary lives.
In the year of 2019, China continued to open its arms wide to embrace the world. We hosted the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition, the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, and the Second China International Import Expo, showcasing a civilized, open and inclusive China to the rest of the world. I held meetings with many heads of state and government, sharing with them China's proposals, promoting friendship and deepening consensus. A few countries joined hands with us. The number of countries that have diplomatic ties with China now stands at 180. We have friends in every corner of the world.
2020 will be a year of milestone significance. We will finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and realize the first centenary goal. 2020 will also be a year of decisive victory for the elimination of poverty. The bugle has sounded. We shall all of one heart "add oil." The greater the difficulties, the further we advance, strengthening our weak links even more and laying a more solid foundation to win the hard battle against poverty with determination, to lift all impoverished rural residents and counties out of poverty by current standards as scheduled.
Several days ago, I attended the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland and felt heartened for the prosperity and stability in Macao. The successful practice of Macao indicates that the principle of "One Country, Two Systems" is fully applicable, achievable, and popular. In recent months, our hearts have been concerned about the situation in Hong Kong. Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can people live in peace and enjoy their work! I sincerely wish Hong Kong well and our Hong Kong compatriots well. Hong Kong's prosperity and stability is the wish of Hong Kong compatriots and the expectation of people of our motherland.
Human history, like a river, runs forever, witnessing both peaceful moments and great disturbances. We are not afraid of storms and dangers and barriers. China is determined to walk along the road of peaceful development and will resolutely safeguard world peace and promote common development. We are willing to join hands with people of all countries in the world to build together the Belt and Road Initiative, and push forward the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and make unremitting efforts for the creation of a beautiful future for mankind.
At this moment, many people are still at their posts, many people are safeguarding peace and security, and many people are working tirelessly. Your hard work is greatly appreciated.
Let's seize the day and live it to the full, and greet the arrival of the year 2020 together.
I wish you all a happy new year!