Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year address Saturday evening in Beijing to ring in 2023. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
Noting that China has entered a new phase of COVID response, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his 2023 New Year address delivered on Saturday night, called for an extra effort from the people to pull through as perseverance and solidarity mean victory.
“Since COVID-19 struck, we have put the people first and put life first all along. Following a science-based and targeted approach, we have adapted our COVID response in light of the evolving situation to protect lives and health of the public to the greatest extent possible,” he added.
Officials and the general public, particularly medical professionals and community workers, have bravely stuck to their posts through it all. With extraordinary efforts, we have prevailed over unprecedented difficulties and challenges, and it has not been an easy journey for anyone, Xi said.
We have now entered a new phase of COVID response where tough challenges remain. Everyone is holding on with great fortitude, and the light of hope is right in front of us, Xi said.
Let’s make an extra effort to pull through, as perseverance and solidarity mean victory, he stressed.
Analysts pointed out that despite latest relaxation in control measures, the guiding principle of “people first, life first” has not changed. The COVID response has shifted focus from preventing infections to preventing critical cases and deaths, which is a realistic and practical approach in facing the new reality of contagion.
The great efforts made over the past three years and achievements of an overall sound control of infections are realized by national solidarity. Recently, many people have already become infected and recovered.
Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations from the China Foreign Affairs University, said although there are challenges and difficulties lying ahead, “we have already demonstrated our perseverance, and we will achieve the ultimate victory against the epidemic.”
Many places have bravely pulled through and emerged from the first peak of infections after adopting the new COVID response strategy, observers said, citing the return of traffic jams, and crowds in shopping malls in major cities.
Amid the 2023 New Year’s Day holiday and Spring Festival holiday, the country has been gearing up to cope with potential infections peak and minimize its impact on rural areas where medical resources are relatively scarce.
It is widely acknowledged that China’s overall COVID response has been responsible and successful over the past three years, saving an untold number of lives especially at the initial stage when the virus strain was more lethal.
In face of the new reality, there have been many debates and divergent views. Li noted at this crucial juncture, every Chinese should not allow Western attacks to disturb our new pace and undermine our confidence in such a victory. More importantly, “we should stand firmly together to overcome the new challenges.”
Xi, in the address, underlined the importance of solidarity, saying “Going forward, China will be a country that draws its strength from unity.”
“Ours is a big country. It is only natural for different people to have different concerns or hold different views on the same issue. What matters is that we build consensus through communication and consultation,” Xi said.
When the 1.4 billion Chinese work with one heart and one mind, and stand in unity with a strong will, no task will be impossible and no difficulty insurmountable, Xi noted.