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Chinese leaders extend Spring Festival greetings
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With a day to go to the Chinese New Year, top Chinese leaders have gathered in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. More than 4,000 people from all walks of life attended Tuesday's annual event.

The celebration began with an upbeat tone. President Hu Jintao chaired the gathering and expressed his best wishes to people from all walks of life.

Hu Jintao said, "On behalf of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, I want to give the most sincere regards to people all over China, including those in the areas hit by snow, and those who are fighting against the disaster. I also want to extend my greetings to the people in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and to overseas Chinese. Finally I want to express gratitude to our overseas friends who support China's modernization. I wish you a happy new year, sound health and a happy family."

Addressing the gathering, Premier Wen Jiabao said that the reform and opening-up has seen great achievements in the past year with the improvement of people's quality of life.

The Premier noted that the latest heavy snow has cut off power supply and traffic, severely affected economic development and brought great difficulties to the people. But with considerable effort, he said the emergency has gradually eased and the economy has remained stable throughout the country. He stressed that this was due to the government's quick response and effective measures, together with the efforts of the people and military forces.

Premier Wen Jiabao stressed that the snow disaster poses a stern test for the country and is essential in ensuring the continued healthy development of the economy. He said the Chinese nation must stick together and tackle all obstacles to overcome the disaster.

In summing up, Wen Jiabao said that 2008 will be crucial in carrying out the strategic arrangement made at the 17th Party Congress. He called on all parties to contribute to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and to strive for the development of a well-off society.

(CCTV February 6, 2008)

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