In the past five years, China's gross domestic product grew from 54 to 80 trillion yuan, said the country's president Xi Jinping. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

Beijing - In the past five years China's gross domestic product grew from 54 to 80 trillion yuan, making "China a leader among the major
economies", the country's President  Xi Jinping said Wednesday.

Xi made the remarks during his marathon three-and-a-half-hour speech during the opening ceremony of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, at the People's Great Hall (China's equivalent of parliament).

The meeting is China's biggest political event and is held every five years. More than 2300 delegates attend the meet and close to 3000 journalists from around the word are in the capital city to cover the event which runs until Tuesday.

During the next seven days, delegates representing an estimated 89 million party members nationwide, will elect about 200 members to the
CCP's Central Committee. The committee is then tasked with appointing members to the 25-member Politburo, which in turn decides on
membership of the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee that sits at the apex of Chinese politics.

Xi is expected to retain his position as the party’s general secretary - and thus China’s top leader. He has since emerged as one of China’s
most dominant rulers since Mao Zedong.

"The economy has maintained a medium-high growth rate. China now leads the world in trade, outbound investment, and foreign
exchange reserves," Xi said.

China is the world's second largest economy and contributes more than 30 percent of global economic growth.

Xi said the party invested an enormous amount of effort into eliminating poverty, creating jobs and combating pollution in the world's most populous nation.

The party counts its rapid GDP growth is among the major economic achievements under its leadership in the five years.

He said the economic structure has been improved as the supply-side structural reform has made further headway. Agricultural modernisation
has advanced too, with annual grain production reaching 600 million metric tons.

Urbanisation has risen by an annual average of 1.2 percentage points, and more than 80 million people have moved from rural to urban areas.

More than 60 million people have been lifted out of poverty since 2012. During the same period, an average of over 13 million urban jobs were created each year.

Xi said they would pay particular attention to helping the poor increase their confidence in their own ability to lift themselves out of poverty and improve access to education.

The party was committed to building strong armed forces and advancing its military. "We will adapt to the trend of a new global military revolution and to national security needs," Xi said. "Our military... must work and focus on how to win when it is called upon... to manage crisis, and deter and win wars."

During his speech, Xi also commended the Chinese for being "brave and industrious".

He said: "The Chinese nation is a great nation; it has been through hardships and adversity but remains indomitable." 

He vowed the political party would continue to strive for "socialism with Chinese characteristics".

Weekend Argus