BEIJING, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It amazes people that New China, which could barely feed its people 70 years ago, has turned into one that is building an all-round well-off society.
Through ups and downs in history, China and its nearly 1.4 billion people are refreshing its national character with hard work and wisdom.
From 35 to 350 km per hour, the 110-year-old Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway, the first one designed and built by Chinese, is a witness of "China speed."
Linking Beijing and the city of Zhangjiakou in north China's Hebei Province, the upgraded railway will play an important role in the transport for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
"The railway not only reflects China's economic development and progress in modern science and technology but also witnesses the unyielding and striving spirit of the Chinese people," said Yang Cunxin, head of Qinglongqiao station, where the railway's designer Zhan Tianyou was buried.
Today, China's high-speed railways have exceeded 25,000 km and are expected to reach 30,000 by 2020, covering over 80 percent of its megacities. And it helps other countries construct railways, too.
From high-speed railway to China's first homegrown jumbo jet C919, from poverty alleviation to the surging digital economy, the achievements and the hard-working and innovative spirit of the Chinese people behind add assuredness to the world's second-largest economy.
By the end of 2018, China's economic output exceeded 90 trillion yuan (12.57 trillion U.S. dollars), with per capita GDP close to 10,000 U.S. dollars. The country has contributed around 30 percent of the growth of the world economy in recent years.
However, China registered a GDP of 67.9 billion yuan in 1952.
Today, China has a population of nearly 1.4 billion and a labor force of 900 million. The total number of R&D personnel in China was estimated at 4.18 million in 2018, the most in the world.
"The Chinese people are self-assured and able to turn the assuredness into real efforts that make a difference in their life and the country's steady development," said Dong Zhenhua, an expert with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
For more than three decades, Zhao Fuzhou and his wife have led a life of solitude in Saihanba, the largest man-made forest on Earth covering about 93,000 hectares in north China.
They work out as lookouts, observing the area and reporting any smoke or fire.
The Saihanba forest, an environmental shield which reduces sandstorms, is critically important to water and air quality for Beijing-Tianjin area. But more than half a century ago it was nothing more than barren land.
The former royal hunting land was opened for lumber to make up for a state deficit in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It quickly turned sterile on the verge of a desert.
Efforts to rehabilitate the land started in the 1960s. Planting trees was tough at Saihanba, where winter could last seven months and temperatures could drop to minus 43 degrees. Trees had to survive drought, frosts and pests.
"We witnessed how hard it was to turn the barren land into a forest. We can't afford to lose it," Zhao said.
The miracle of Saihanba is one of the telling examples of China's huge headway in afforestation. In 2017, the Saihanba afforestation community scooped the UN Champions of the Earth Award for its outstanding contribution to the restoration of degraded landscapes.
After decades of blistering economic growth, China has steered towards green development or sustainable growth.
China has invested enormous efforts in past decades, including the adoption of the world's first law on tackling desertification, the return of farmland to grass and the ban of natural forest logging.
A study using data from NASA satellites shows in February that China had contributed to at least one-fourth of the increase in the global green leaf area since the early 2000s.
China, one of the first countries to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, has pledged to halt the rise in carbon dioxide emissions by around 2030.
From environmental governance and climate change to international medical aids, peacekeeping and overseas escort missions, China has been playing a more responsible role in addressing global issues amid protectionist headwinds.
Take, for example, medical aid. Since China started providing medical assistance to Africa in 1963, Chinese medical personnel have treated some 220 million patients in 48 African countries as of last year, according to the National Health Commission.
Experts said these were not easy for a developing country like China and could inspire other countries to do their parts.
Huang Wenxiu, 30, was still thinking about the well-being of her fellow villagers in the final moments of her life.
"I'm worried Baini Village might be affected by the heavy rain. I have to rush back," Huang's father Huang Zhongjie quoted her as saying when they parted on the night of June 17.
Huang was the Party chief of Baini Village, Leye County, a remote backwater in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. She died in a rain-triggered flash flood that night on her way back to Baini, where she had been leading the poverty reduction efforts since March 2018.
Huang had visited all 195 poverty-stricken households in the village to learn about their difficulties and to find ways to help them earn more money.
One of her solutions is to grow more profitable fruits and crops. To boost the sales of local products, she established an e-commerce service station, which brought an extra income of over 2,500 yuan to every orange grower in the village last year.
Thanks to Huang's efforts, a total of 418 Baini villagers shook off poverty in 2018, with the poverty headcount ratio in the village dropping from 22.9 percent to 2.7 percent.
Huang is one of tens of thousands of Chinese grassroots officials who have been deployed to the frontline of the nationwide battle against poverty, as China has pledged to let impoverished people and poor areas enter the moderately prosperous society together with the rest of the country by 2020.
Their unswerving dedication to the anti-poverty campaign has helped more than 700 million Chinese people cast off poverty since 1978 when China started its reform and opening-up drive. China is the first developing country to pass the poverty reduction mark of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
At the end of 2018, China's rural population living under the national poverty line was down to 16.6 million, and all of them are expected to be lifted out of poverty by 2020.
Meanwhile, China has also been offering experience and assistance to other countries in their poverty reduction efforts. By October 2015, the country had provided 400 billion yuan of aid to 166 countries and international organizations, dispatched over 600,000 assistance personnel and offered medical assistance to 69 countries, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
On Huangshan Mountain in east China's Anhui Province stands one of China's most famous trees, the Greeting Pine.
Growing out of the rocks with a long branch extending over the mouth of a cave, the tree gets the name mainly because it appears to be greeting everyone who arrives on the scene.
"It is a symbol of the Chinese people's hospitality and openness, stretching out its arms to welcome millions of visitors from home and abroad to the mountain," said Hu Xiaochun, the tree's 19th guardian.
Weimar Arcila, a 48-year-old businessman from Columbia, is among hundreds of thousands of international visitors to the mountain.
Very few foreigners visited China 70 years ago. As of July 2019, China has established diplomatic ties with 178 countries. The number of inbound trips to China has soared to over 141 million last year.
As much as Weimar loves China's natural scenery, he seems more interested in China's shoe industry since he runs a shoe factory in China.
"I was impressed by the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai last year. I look forward to the second expo this year," said the businessman.
A total of 172 countries, regions and international organizations and more than 3,600 enterprises gathered in Shanghai for the first CIIE. Deals for intended one-year purchases of goods and services worth 57 billion U.S. dollars were signed during the six-day event.
While opening its door up, China is also going global for cooperation and connectivity. In 2013, China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has drawn wide attention from the international community.
The initiative brings technology and funds to less developed countries, enabling them to share the outcomes of globalization, said Hans Hendrischke, a professor with the Business School of the University of Sydney.
To date, China has signed cooperation documents with more than 150 countries and international organizations under the BRI, spurring trade and economic growth, and creating jobs.
Bilateral trade volume between China and the countries participating in the BRI grew 9 percent year on year in the first five months this year.
In comparison to unilateral, protectionist policies, China offers a chance for "peaceful and common prosperity" among countries, said Francesco Maringio, an Italian China expert.
The BRI is "an operating platform for how nations can work together and resolve their differences amicably through negotiation, through give-and-take, through win-win solutions," said William Jones, Washington bureau chief of the U.S. publication Executive Intelligence Review.
"That has to be the wave of the future," he said.