Chinese leaders attended a grand gathering in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival and extend festive greetings to the Chinese people.
Chinese President Hu Jintao chaired the gathering of 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 in 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.
Several weeks of severe winter weather has led to transport problems and blackouts in some parts of China, causing economic loss and affecting people's livelihood, Wen said. "Thanks to hard efforts, electricity supply and transportation have been basically brought back to normal, the disaster is under control and social and economic conditions of the whole country are stable," he said.
"Severe natural disaster is both a test and an exercise for us. Relief work has come to the critical point," the Premier said, adding that the country should continue with the efforts to achieve the final victory.
"We have the confidence and the ability," he added.
Senior CPC and state leaders including Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang attended the gathering.
Other participants included leaders of various departments of the central government, officials from the Beijing municipality, representatives of retired senior cadres, leaders of non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, people without party affiliations, representatives of ethnic minorities, domestic and foreign experts and scholars, as well as representatives of various circles in the capital city.
The gathering was jointly hosted by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important traditional Chinese festival. It falls on February 7 this year.
(Xinhua News Agency February 6, 2008)