Xi Jinping (C, front), Li Keqiang (3rd R, front), Zhang Dejiang (3rd L, front), Yu Zhengsheng (2nd R, front), Liu Yunshan (2nd L, front), Wang Qishan (1st R, front), Zhang Gaoli (1st L, front), Jiang Zemin (4th R, front) and Hu Jintao (4th L, front) attend the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 18, 2017. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Xi Jinping on Wednesday painted a particularly optimistic outlook for the future of the world's second-largest economy in an effort to substantiate the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, promising a "great modern socialist country" by the middle of this century.
Addressing the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi spelled out a two-stage development plan for the country in front of more than 2,300 delegates selected from 89 million Party members.
By the mid-21st century, new heights are expected to be reached in every dimension of material, political, cultural and ethical, social, ecological and military advancement.
China will become "a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence," Xi told an applauding audience, which included senior Party and government officials as well as grassroots representatives such as workers and farmers.
Xi's grand ambitions far exceed previous expectations for that period.
Previous plans -- often framed as the country's second centenary goal marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China -- only spoke of "a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious."
As Xi set a higher goal for about 30 years from now, the country's modernization drive is picking up speed.
In his speech, Xi said China will build on the foundation created by the "moderately prosperous society" with another 15 years of hard work, to ensure that socialist modernization is basically realized by 2035.
It will be the first time in history that over one billion people are lifted into modernity in such a short period of time.
By that point, the country's economic and technological strength will have increased significantly, and rule of law for the country, the government, and society will be basically in place.
Part of Xi's modernization drive includes developing a modernized economy by furthering supply-side structural reform, building China into a manufacturer of quality and developing advanced manufacturing, and by protecting entrepreneurship and encouraging innovation.
He also envisioned stronger cultural soft power, greater appeal of Chinese culture by 2035, and a better environment.
On the military front, the modernization of national defense and the armed forces will be basically completed by 2035, and by the mid-21st century, the military should be fully transformed into world-class forces, Xi told the session.
In many ways, the twice-a-decade gathering, the most important event on China's political calendar, will mark a milestone in the history of the CPC and the Chinese nation.
A new leadership -- whose five-year term will extend beyond 2020 when the building of a moderately prosperous society is expected to be finished -- will be elected, and the CPC Constitution will be amended.
Experts widely believe China has entered an era with the greatest composite national strength since the Opium War around 1840, which plunged China into the darkness of foreign aggression and domestic turmoil.
In particular, the great progress registered by the world's second-largest economy over the past five years has offered the momentum for China to achieve its modernization goals.
In the past five years, China's GDP rose from 54 trillion to 80 trillion yuan, contributing more than 30 percent of global economic growth.
Meanwhile, more than 60 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Over 1,500 reform measures have been launched, establishing general frameworks for reform in major fields and lending greater impetus for growth.
"This is a new historic juncture in China's development," Xi said. "Scientific socialism is full of vitality in 21st-century China."
But China is still facing severe challenges and will long remain in the primary stage of socialism. Its international status as the world's largest developing country has not changed.
"Some acute problems caused by unbalanced and inadequate development await solutions; and the quality and effect of development are not what they should be," Xi said.
China's ability to innovate needs to be stronger, the real economy awaits improvement, and the country has a long way to go in protecting the environment.
"We must devote great energy to addressing development's imbalances and inadequacies, and push hard to improve the quality and effect of development," Xi said.
"Achieving national rejuvenation will be no walk in the park," he continued. "It will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there."