Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening. Welcome to this reception jointly held by Ambassador Zhang Xiangchen, Ambassador Li Song and I to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
1 October 1949, on the rostrum of Tian'anmen Square, Chairman Mao Zedong proudly declared the founding of the People's Republic of China. From that moment on, the Chinese people took the future of the country and nation into their own hands. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, they brought about miracles and historic leaps rarely seen in the history of human development.
There has been a historic leap forward in the Chinese economy. Once deeply mired in poverty, China now is the world's second largest economy. Its GDP, only 30 billion US dollars in the early days of the PRC, grew by more than 450 times to 1.36 trillion in 2018; it is now the world's largest country in terms of manufacturing, trade in goods, and foreign exchange reserve, the second largest consumer of goods, and the second largest destination for foreign investment. It leads the world in the output of over 200 kinds of industrial products and the number of Fortune 500 companies, which is 129 in total.
There has been a historic leap forward in the Chinese standard of living. A society once in urgent need of food and clothing is now embracing moderate prosperity in all areas. China's per capita GDP has jumped by 135 times to 9,700 US dollars last year. In a short span of 40 years since we started to reform and open up the country, over 700 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, a 400 million strong middle-income group has taken shape, and a basic pension system for 900 million people and health insurance system for 1.3 billion have been set up, the size of which is unmatched anywhere else in the world. Average life expectancy, only 35 decades ago, has increased to 77 last year.
There has been a historic leap forward in China's international standing and influence. Moving ever closer towards the center of the international stage, China has built partnerships of various forms along the way with 110 countries and international organizations, 60 of which are comprehensive strategic partnerships. China is the second largest contributor to the UN budget and the leading contributor to its peacekeeping missions among the permanent members of the Security Council. For years in a row, China generated over 30% of global growth, steadying and powering world economic growth to a great extent. China conducts diplomacy to support national rejuvenation and promote human progress, integrating its own future ever more closely with that of the world.
These short 70 years means a world of difference to China. It shows the Communist Party of China is the right choice by history and the Chinese people to lead the country; the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only way that can take China forward; and reform and openness are key to China's continued progress.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Led by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, the Chinese people are now pressing ahead along the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics to achieve even more in the new era of the nation.
Our commitment to reform and openness stays strong. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Central Committee has released 400 documents that includes over 1,900 plans for reforms in crucial areas, unlocking tremendous vigor across the whole spectrum of our work. We are taking meaningful and in-depth measures to open up the country, integrating our economy with the rest of the world in more areas. And we will not stop. China builds not walls but bridges; we believe not in the beggar-thy-neighbor approach, but in win-win cooperation. China's door will not close, but will only open wider.
Our commitment to quality development stays strong. Following a modern outlook on development, the Chinese government is pushing forward supply-side structural reform and making innovation a more powerful engine for growth. The quality and efficiency of our development keep improving. China has made important progress in manned space program, quantum science, super-computing, and satellite navigation. It has the world's largest pool of R&D personnel and largest number of patent applications; it invests the second most in research and development. There are over 1.3 billion mobile broadband subscribers in the country; modern information technologies such as big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence are making fast progress.
Our commitment to practising major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics stays strong. We work for the goals of building a community with a shared future for mankind and an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity. We have concluded agreements for cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative with more than 160 countries and international organizations, turning a roughly-sketched blueprint into well-thought out plans and putting them into reality. This is a new pathway for economic globalization that promises new potential for international cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As an important stage of multilateral diplomacy, Geneva witnessed the debut of the PRC on the world stage. In 1954, then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and his delegation worked tirelessly for world peace at the Geneva Conference. In 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the United Nations Office in Geneva, "China will do well only when the world does well, and vice versa." It only seems like yesterday. China will continue its miraculous journey for national development. As we forge ahead, we are determined to follow the path of peaceful development and the principle of win-win cooperation, promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and contribute China's wisdom, solutions, and strength to world peace and human progress.
Last but least, I would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation and warm greetings to everyone who cares about and supports China.
To conclude, please join me in a toast:
To the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China;
To world peace and prosperity; and
To the health and happiness of all of you.