The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, has more than 4,000 years of history. It is the most important annual event for the Chinese.
This year, it falls on February 16. It will be the Year of the Dog, according to Chinese zodiac.
It is an occasion for families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also a time for us to review the past and look forward to the future.
In the past year, China has taken a great step towards a moderately prosperous society.
The economy has maintained a stable performance and has been steered onto a new path featuring high-quality rather than high-speed growth.
China’s GDP has reached $12.3 trillion, an increase of 6.9 per cent and accounts for 15 per cent of the world’s GDP.
Its foreign exchange reserves rose to $3.14 trillion.
The value of imports and exports was over $4.4 trillion, increasing by 14.2 per cent. The value created by the service sector rose by eight per cent, contributing 51.6 per cent to the GDP.
High-tech industries and equipment manufacturing grew rapidly.
China is becoming a country of innovation. Science and technology contributed 57 per cent to economic growth.
The research and development input has increased by 11 per cent. Some 7.95 million Chinese graduated from higher education institutions, which is 20 per cent of the world’s total. Per capita disposable income increased by 7.3 per cent in real terms.
Over 13 million new jobs were created and 10 million people lifted out of poverty. Old-age insurance system now covers 900 million people. And 1.35 billion are covered by basic medical insurance. In past year, 129 million Chinese travelled abroad.
These achievements are due to the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Its 19th National Congress held last October launched a new era in Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and outlined its blueprint.
Last month, a CPC delegation visited Kenya. It met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Speaker of National Assembly Justin Muturi, Jubilee Party leaders, Kenyan media and think tanks.
Chinese and Kenyan publishing houses are working together to translate into Kiswahili books by President Xi Jinping.
This project will boost exchanges of governance experience. Every spring, the Chinese National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference hold joint sessions in Beijing.
The sessions have been known as the two meetings, which are significant annual events drawing attention in China and the world. This is the first year of fully implementing the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, and the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up.
We will follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, committed to pursuit of an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, security and prosperity.
We look forward to a world of greater openness and less isolation. We will further work on the Belt and Road Initiative by implementing deliverables of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing last May.
The Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be held in Beijing in September. Chinese and African leaders will review their cooperation since the Johannesburg Summit and design a new roadmap for development. China-Kenya cooperation will be a highlight at the summit.
The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR has become a milestone for China-Africa cooperation. More than 600,000 passengers have used the service. The construction of the SGR extension line is underway.
The 4,500-metre Ngong Hill railway tunnel, the longest in eastern Africa, will be completed soon. China will work even closer with Kenya on major projects to realise the goals of industrialisation and modernisation.
The China International Import Expo will be held in Shanghai in November. Kenya will be one of few African countries to have a national pavilion.
Kenya’s exports such as coffee, tea, and flowers and tourism attractions will be showcased. Kenyan enterprises should seize this opportunity to expand exports to China.
As the old Chinese saying goes, “the work for the year is best begun in spring”. As we celebrate the Spring Festival, we wish express our sincere hope for a brighter future and greater prosperity.
In the new year, we believe Kenya will make greater progress, and that the two countries will push their comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to a new height.
Mr Liu is China’s Ambassador to Kenya