BEIJING - Festive mood is in the air as the Chinese people celebrate the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
On Monday, a huge crowd of people -- numbering over 145,000 -- turned up at Tian'anmen Square in the heart of Beijing to watch the raising of the national flag at daybreak.
It was 69 years ago when the founding of the PRC sent the message that "the Chinese people have stood up." Today, the nation has grown rich -- thanks to the reform and opening up which began four decades ago -- and is on the track to becoming strong under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
The world is changing, with seemingly more uncertainties and challenges. But China is determined to keep striding ahead. And it is capable of doing so.
The Chinese economy, the second largest in the world, is stable with good growth momentum. In 2017, China's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 6.9 percent to 82.7 trillion yuan (12.8 trillion U.S. dollars), around 15 percent of the world total. In the first eight months this year, profits of major Chinese industrial firms grew 16.2 percent, manufacturing investment went up 3 percentage points and the consumer market kept expanding.
New growth drivers and business models have emerged. Farmers have good harvests and employees receive bigger paychecks.
According to an income tax overhaul going into effect in October, people will see the minimum threshold for personal income tax exemption raised from 3,500 yuan (about 513 U.S. dollars) to 5,000 yuan per month.
Retirees can be assured that their pension payments will be on time and in full, partly thanks to a reform to balance pension distribution across different regions.
Parents can breathe a sigh of relief as authorities have moved to regulate extracurricular classes that put too much stress on children.
Key infrastructure projects are on schedule.
The country's massive high-speed rail network was extended to Hong Kong in September, cutting land travel between Hong Kong and Beijing to around nine hours.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the longest bridge-and-tunnel sea crossing in the world, is ready to open.
Planes coming to Beijing's crowded skies will be able to land at a new international airport next year. The airport, located in Beijing's southern suburbs, is set to become the Chinese capital's next architectural icon.
Of course, tough challenges lie ahead. These include issues of environmental protection, unbalanced development and poverty alleviation, to name just a few.
China will take on these challenges with deeper and broader reforms and is confident of surmounting them one after another.
Between 1978 and 2014, over 700 million people in China, with a population of 1.3 billion, were lifted out of poverty, known as "Poverty reduction with Chinese characteristics." From 2012 to 2017, China lifted nearly 70 million rural people out of poverty, and the poverty rate fell from 10.2 percent to 3.1 percent.
The nation is closer than ever to reaching national rejuvenation -- the Chinese Dream.
This can be achieved as China marches on under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core.
Three landmark years are in sight. In 2019, the PRC will celebrate its 70th anniversary. In 2020, a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be established. In 2021, the CPC will celebrate its centenary.
To translate the blueprint into a reality, the Chinese people have to avoid any distraction, take one step at a time and approach their work with a firm footing.