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UPDATED: December 19, 2008
China Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Landmark Reform, Opening-up

President Hu Jintao said on Thursday that China must continue the reform and opening-up drive, which in the past 30 years turned the once poverty-stricken country into one of the world's largest economies.

Hu said China's significant changes over the past 30 years have proved that the direction and path of reform and opening-up are "completely correct".

Given the current world situation, especially the escalation and spread of the international financial crisis, China must continue to firmly focus on economic development, Hu said.

"Standing still and regressing will lead only to a dead end," Hu told an audience of more than 6,000, including top Chinese leaders.

The meeting, which started at the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing at 10:00 a.m, was held to mark the 30th anniversary of the holding of the 3rd plenary session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which spearheaded the reform and opening-up drive in 1978.

Leaders including Jiang Zemin, Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang attended the meeting.

Economic reforms began 30 years ago after the 10-year Cultural 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 on Dec. 18,1978, which was masterminded by Deng Xiaoping and his comrades. Deng himself was then called the chief architect of the reform and opening up drive.

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.(Xinhua Photo)

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Hu said the meeting 30 years ago 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.

By gathering to commemorate the 30th anniversary of that meeting, Hu said the intention was 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.

China has maintained an average annual growth rate of 9.8 percent over the past three decades, more than three times the world average.

Gross domestic product soared from a mere 360 billion yuan (about 52 billion U.S. dollars at current rates) in 1978 to 24.95 trillion yuan in 2007, making China the world's fourth-largest economy.

Hu said the past 30 years were a period in which China's national strength rose a big margin, and the Chinese people have received more tangible benefits than ever before.

"Reform and opening-up are the fundamental causes of all the achievements and progress we have made," Hu said.

But Hu also cautioned the Party and the Chinese people not to become content with their achievements and stop moving forward.

Hu said China still faced many challenges, including a weak agricultural foundation and less-developed rural areas. The nation's ability to innovate new things is also weak.

"We must adhere to the correct direction of reform and opening-up so as to build a system that is full of vigor, highly efficient, more open and has a favorable environment for scientific development," he said.

He also suggested that the reform of political system be pushed in keeping pace with economic reforms.

(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2008)

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