In his first major address Sunday as the country's new president, Xi Jinping, who is also the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and chairman of the party's powerful Central Military Commission, told the closing meeting of the National People's Congress his government will make arduous efforts to achieve the "Chinese dream" in the face of the "earnest expectations of the people for a better life ... ."
Xi, described as a reformist, was elected president last week by the Parliament, succeeding Hu Jintao, and the country's No. 2 leader Li Keqiang, an economist, took over as premier from outgoing Wen Jiabao, completing the country's once-in-a-decade leadership transition that began with the party's annual congress in November.
Xi stressed the party's theme of "socialism with Chinese characteristics."
"We must make persistent efforts, press ahead with indomitable will, continue to push forward the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and strive to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," the official Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying.
He said the "Chinese dream" after all is the dream of the people. "We must realize it by closely depending on the people. We must incessantly bring benefits to the people."
He promised to listen to the voice of China's 1.3 billion people, adding "we cannot have the slightest complacency, or get the slightest slack at work."
The new leader also pledged to resolutely fight official corruption, which the leadership has acknowledged on several occasions is a serious problem facing the country.
"We must resolutely reject formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance, and resolutely fight against corruption and other misconduct in all manifestations," Xi told the nearly 3,000 legislators.
In his comments outlined before a news conference, Premier Li Keqiang, 57, spoke of reforms as the country seeks new momentum for development other than its large workforce.
"However deep the water may be, we will wade into it because we have no alternative," Li said, noting reform, "the biggest dividend for China," affects the destiny of the country and the future of the nation.
"There is great space for further unleashing productivity through reform and there is great potential to make sure the benefits of reforms will reach the entire population," the report quoted Li as saying.
Some Chinese economists have warned reforms must be sped up as China's large workforce, which has been a demographic dividend for the economy, is beginning to dwindle.
"Reform is like rowing upstream. Failing to advance means falling back," Li had said earlier.
He promised to accelerate economic transformation, make full use of fiscal, financial and pricing and other policy instruments, and pursue reforms of the budgetary system to make it more open, transparent, standardized and inclusive. He said the government will carry out market-oriented reforms in interest rate, exchange rate of the yuan, develop a multi-tier capital market and raise the share of direct financing.
He also said the government needs to reform the income distribution system and narrow the gap between urban and rural areas that involves 800 million rural residents and more than 500 million urban residents, as well as bridge the gap between different regions.