My beloved motherland is a country that stood numerous vicissitudes but never gave up.
Earlier in my career, I worked in northwest China for many years. There, in the boundless desert, grows a rare variety of tree called euphrates poplar. Rooted over 50 meters down the ground, they thrive in hostile environments, defying droughts, sandstorms and salinization. They are known as the "hero tree", because a euphrates poplar can live for a thousand years. Even after it dies, it stands upright for a thousand years, and even after it falls, it stays intact for another thousand years. I like euphrates poplar because they symbolize the resilience of the Chinese nation.
Over the millennia, the Chinese nation has weathered numerous disasters, both natural and man-made, surmounted all kinds of difficulties and challenges, and made her way to where she proudly stands today. The long sufferings have only made her a nation of fortitude and perseverance. The experience of the Chinese nation attests to a truth: what a nation loses in times of disaster will be made up for by her progress.
I am reminded of the experience that I had in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province after the devastating earthquake there last May. That earthquake shocked the whole world. It flattened Beichuan Middle School and claimed many young lives. But only 10 days after the earthquake, when I went there for the second time, I had before my eyes new classrooms built on debris by local villagers with planks. Once again, the campus echoed with the sound of students reading aloud. I wrote down 4 Chinese characters on the blackboard, meaning "A country will emerge stronger from adversities." I have been to Wenchuan seven times since the earthquake and witnessed countless touching scenes like this. I am deeply moved by the unyielding spirit of my people. This great national spirit is the source of strength which has enabled the Chinese nation to emerge from all the hardships stronger than before.
With hard work over the past half century and more, China has achieved great progress. Its total economic output is now one of the largest in the world. However, we remain a developing country and we are keenly aware of the big gap that we have with the developed countries. There has been no fundamental change in our basic national condition: a big population, weak economic foundation and uneven development. China's per capita GDP ranks behind 100 countries in the world and is only about 1/16 that of Britain. Those of you who have been to China as tourists must have seen the modern cities, but our rural areas are still quite backward.
To basically achieve modernization by the middle of this century, we must accomplish three major tasks: first, achieve industrialization, which Europe has long completed, while keeping abreast of the latest trends of the scientific and technological revolution; second, promote economic growth while ensuring social equity and justice; and third, pursue sustainable development at home while accepting our share of international responsibilities. The journey ahead will be long and arduous, but no amount of difficulty will stop the Chinese people from marching forward. Through persistent efforts, we will reach our goal.