Greetings to you all! Time flies and we will soon welcome 2018. Here, I would like to extend my New Year greetings to the people of all ethnic groups in China, to our compatriots in the Hong Kong SAR and the Macao SAR, to our compatriots in Taiwan and to overseas Chinese. I would also like to wish our friends in other countries and regions all the very best.
Fortune favors the diligent and times are changing fast. In 2017, we held the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and embarked on a new journey to fully build a modern socialist China. Our GDP rose to the level of 80 trillion yuan ($ 12.3 trillion). Over 13 million urban and rural jobs were created. Our old-age insurance system now covers more than 900 million people, and 1.35 billion people are covered by basic medical insurance. More than 10 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty. "How I wish I could have ten thousand houses, to provide shelter for all who need it!" 3.4 million people were relocated from poverty-stricken areas and now live in new warm housing. The construction of 6 million apartments in shanty areas has begun ahead of schedule. Various initiatives to improve people's livelihoods have been accelerated, and the environment has steadily improved. People's sense of fulfillment, happiness and security have grown stronger. We have taken another great step in finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
There has been a steady flow of technological innovation and major engineering feats in China. The X-ray satellite Insight is probing deep space. The C919 large airliner took off into the blue sky. A quantum computer was built and became operational. A trial was conducted for rice production in saline soil. We launched the first Chinese-built aircraft carrier. The "Sea Wings" underwater glider completed its first deep-sea exploration. The first extraction of combustible ice was a success. Phase IV of the Shanghai Yangshan Automated Deep Water Port began operations. The main structure of the cross-sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macao was finished. Fuxing bullet trains now criss-cross China's vast landscape. I applaud the Chinese people for their great creativity.
We held a military parade at the Zhurihe training base in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army. During the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong SAR's return to the motherland, I visited Hong Kong and saw in person that, with the strong support of the motherland, Hong Kong has retained its long term prosperity and stability. It will undoubtedly have an even better future. We also held a ceremony in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and a state memorial ceremony for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, to remember history and to pray for peace.
We hosted several multilateral diplomatic events in China, including the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, and the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting. I also took part in some major multilateral meetings overseas. At the beginning of the year, I attended the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, and delivered a speech at the UN Headquarters in Geneva. Later, I attended the G20 Summit and the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. During these occasions, I had many in-depth exchanges of views with concerted parties and they all supported the joint promotion of building a community of shared future for mankind so as to benefit people across the world.
In 2017, I again received many letters from the people, including villagers from the Yumai township in Lhunze county in Tibet autonomous region; members of the Wulanmuqi Art Troupe from the Sonid Right Banner in Inner Mongolia autonomous region; veteran professors from the relocated main body of Xi'an Jiaotong University; and new PLA student recruits from Nankai University. Their stories touched me deeply. The people have made sacrifices for the good of the nation without regrets or complaints. I feel the millions of ordinary Chinese are the greatest, and I also feel that happiness is achieved through hard work.
The year 2018 marked the first year of fully implementing the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which outlines China's desired development blueprint over the next three decades. Building a high-rise begins with mounds of soil. To translate the blueprint into reality, we have to avoid the distractions of unsubstantial ideas and superficial fame, take one step at a time, and approach our work with a firm footing.
2018 marks the 40th anniversary of our reform and opening-up, which has been the only path to the development and progress of contemporary China and the only path to the realization of the Chinese Dream. At the significant juncture of the 40th anniversary, we should surmount all obstacles to carry the reform further to its ultimate triumph.
By 2020, China will lift its rural impoverished population out of poverty by current standards. That is our solemn commitment and we will honor it. With three years left until 2020, the whole of society must leap into action and, with concerted efforts and targeted measures, continuously strive for fresh victories. After three years, we will win the final phase of the war on poverty. This will be the first time in thousands of years of Chinese history that extreme poverty has been eliminated. Let us accomplish this great cause of momentous significance for the Chinese nation and all humanity.
Regarding the prospects of humanity's peace and development, there is both expectation and concern; all sides are awaiting a clear Chinese stance. All under heaven are one family. As a responsible major country, China has something to say. China will resolutely uphold the authority and status of the United Nations, actively fulfill China's international obligations and duties, remain firmly committed to China's pledges to tackle climate change, actively push for the Belt and Road Initiative, and always be a builder of world peace, contributor to global development and keeper of international order. The Chinese people are ready to chart out a more prosperous, peaceful future for humanity, with people from other countries.
China's great achievement of development was made by the people and for the people. I am aware of the people's biggest concerns, such as education, employment, income, social security, healthcare, old-age security, housing and the environment. Though progress has been made, issues of public concern remain. Our efforts at improving people's well-being have not always been satisfactory. That is why we should strengthen our sense of responsibility, and do a good job of ensuring the people's well-being. The Party committees, governments, and officials at all levels must constantly hold in their hearts the interests and concerns of the people, and regard the benefit of the people as their greatest political achievement; they must think for the people, respond to their needs, and work for the greater happiness of the people.