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In New Year speech, Xi touts COVID control and economic comeback

China is 'first major economy worldwide' to attain positive growth, president says

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year's address in Beijing on Dec. 31. (Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- President Xi Jinping said Thursday that China has overcome the impact of the pandemic, underscoring his confidence that the world's second-biggest economy has brought the novel coronavirus outbreak under control.

China has "made great achievements in coordinating prevention and control and in economic and social development," Xi said in his televised speech on New Year's Eve.

Although the number of new infections has apparently peaked in late February in the mainland, the virus, which was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has spread and raged across the globe.

With other countries still facing economic downturns, China has become the "first major economy worldwide" to attain positive growth, Xi said, adding its gross domestic product in 2020 is expected to "step up to a new level of 100 trillion yuan ($15.3 trillion)."

As trade tensions with the United States are likely to linger even after Democrat Joe Biden succeeds Republican Donald Trump as U.S. president on Jan. 20, Xi also pledged to open China's market more to attract investment from abroad.

"The opening-up and reform have created miracles of development. In the future, we should further deepen reform and expand opening-up with greater courage," Xi said.

On the back of the government's aggressive stimulus measures, such as monetary easing and subsidy provisions, China's economy has shown signs of a V-shaped recovery as business activities have intensified and retail sales have been recuperating.

During the July-September period of this year, the economy grew 4.9 percent from a year earlier, marking the second straight quarter of expansion, after shrinking 6.8 percent in the first three months of 2020.

The virus that causes COVID-19 disease has sickened around 87,000 people in mainland China and killed more than 4,600, according to Chinese health authorities.

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