BEIJING -- Chinese leaders offered their Spring Festival greetings to the nation at a gathering to mark the coming Lunar New Year here Saturday.
President Hu Jintao chaired the gathering of more than 4,000 people from various sections of society.
On behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council, Hu, who is general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, conveyed festival greetings to all Chinese people and his thanks to the friends of China across the world.
Premier Wen Jiabao, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a speech.
2008 was an extraordinary year for China, in which the country succeeded in fighting the severe winter weather, the May 12 earthquake, in hosting the Beijing Olympics and launching the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft and actively coping with the current international financial crisis, he said.
The achievements "demonstrated that no difficulty could defeat the great Chinese people and the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics will be broadened," he said.
The country will embrace the 60th founding anniversary of new China in 2009, Wen said.
Priority should be given to maintaining stable and relatively fast economic growth this year. This will be achieved through expanding domestic demand especially consumption demand, restructuring the economy and transforming the growth pattern, he said.
All will ultimately target maximally satisfying people's increasing material and cultural needs, he added.
In 2009, China will enhance and improve macroeconomic control efforts and carry out an active fiscal policy, as well as a moderately easy monetary policy, he said.
"We have the confidence and the ability to overcome various difficulties and achieve further development," he added.
The government will pool strength of the nation to do some practical things for the people, including expanding employment, improving the social security system, promoting medicare system reform, enhancing development of the cultural industry, and ensuring smooth rebuilding in disaster-hit areas, he said.
The government will also strive to solve people's housing difficulties and to provide satisfactory education that ensures no child drops out of school because of financial difficulties, he said.
Other leaders, including Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, also attended the gathering.
Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important traditional Chinese festival of family reunion. It falls on January 26 this year. (Xinhua) Updated: 2009-01-25 08:39