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State celebration for Spring Festival held in Beijing
2004-01-20 00:00

China's leaders and more than 4,500 representatives of various walks of life attended a grand celebration Tuesday morning at the Great Hall of the People to mark the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year which starts on Jan. 22 this year.

The large ball room, which is traditionally used for state banquets, was decorated with big red lanterns and fresh flowers.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, presided over the occasion and sent his greetings to all Chinese, including the compatriots in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan, as well as overseas Chinese.

Hu also sent regards to foreign friends who had made contributions to China's modernization drive.

Premier Wen Jiabao said in a speech that the past year was significant and extraordinary as the Chinese people fought toughly against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

With success in controlling the disease, Wen said, China made great achievements in economic development. Per capita gross domestic product in 2003 exceeded 1,000 US dollars.

The nation also witnessed its first ever manned space mission, ethnic solidarity and further social progress, which had been widely noticed by the world, Wen said.

"The year 2004 was vital for the advancement of the nation," Wen said. "We are determined to push forward reform and opening-upas well as the modernization drive," Wen said.

"We should wisely deal with our jobs according to different situations," he said. "We should see both favorable conditions as well as challenges."

Wen said the government would try all out to untangle major contradictions in social and economic development as well as problems concerning people's basic interests.

The premier urged officials at various levels to cultivate a down-to-the-earth and studious style of work and better serve the people.

"We must pay great attention to issues of practical concern, such as employment, social security, medical care and education," Wen said.

Wen also wished a better future of Hong Kong and Macao and happy lives for the people.

As the Lunar New Year is around the corner, Wen said he particularly had Taiwan compatriots in his mind.

"We will unswervingly, together with all Chinese including Taiwan compatriots, push forward the cause of reunification of themotherland," Wen said.
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