As deputy mayor three decades ago, Xi reflects on many improvements
President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, appear with leaders and spouses from other BRICS countries and additional nations invited to the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, before the welcoming banquet on Sept 4, 2017.(WU ZHIYI / CHINA DAILY)
"Thirty-two years ago, I came to Xiamen for work, and I was here to serve as a deputy mayor. That day was my 32nd birthday," President Xi Jinping said at a welcoming banquet at which he greeted foreign dignitaries in the coastal city on Monday evening.
Tall buildings and foreigners were rare there, Xi said as he recalled the scene while addressing the leaders and other guests attending the BRICS Summit and the related dialogue of emerging markets and developing countries.
As the local people are known for their bravery, perseverance and hard work, they also have ridden the tide of the country's reform and opening-up and made Xiamen a modern and international city, Xi noted.
Thirty-two years later, Xiamen has a different look, with skyscrapers making the city glow at night and the blue skies during the day contrasting with the lush green foliage, Xi noted.
Xi said he has "no doubt" that there are many stories of success like Xiamen that have come from or will materialize from other emerging markets and developing countries.
"We have great, hardworking and intelligent people, and we have the great aspiration to get rid of poverty and head toward a happy life - as well as the relentless pursuit of gaining equality and justice and enjoying peace and development," Xi said.
As long as the countries can join hands and make concerted efforts, they will achieve more miracles of development and lead people to a well-off life, Xi said.
The city's scenic Gulangyu Island, designated by UNICEF as a World Cultural Heritage site in July, has been a key element of the welcoming banquet.
A spectacular traditional Chinese painting featuring a panoramic view of the island hangs on the wall and was the backdrop when Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, greeted the leaders and their spouses arriving for the banquet.
The gigantic painting presents fine details - the trees, villas on the island and even the sails on the water.
The orchestra at the banquet greeted the guests at their entry with a popular Chinese song, The Waves of Gulangyu Island.
Xi said Gulangyu Island is known as a living museum featuring the architecture of various countries and a world historical community.
Its being registered as World Cultural Heritage added new color to the city, he said.
The gathering of leaders in Xiamen for further cooperation "will make another splendid chapter of this city of charm", Xi added.
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