BEIJING, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping vowed to uphold socialism with Chinese characteristics and China's independent "path, theory and system" on Wednesday as China marked the 110th anniversary of the birth of Deng Xiaoping.
Addressing a symposium to mark the anniversary, which falls on Friday, Xi said the most important political and theoretical legacy of the late Chinese leader is socialism with Chinese characteristics, which the Party and people created under the leadership of Deng.
Socialism with Chinese characteristics fits China's reality and meets the needs of the times, which is why it works, he said.
"The independent path, theory and system are key to the sovereignty and dignity of our country as well as the self-esteem and independence of the Chinese nation," he said.
"We will try our best to reform areas that are weak and unsound and learn from the good experiences of foreign countries, but we will never completely copy the foreign experience let alone absorb bad things from them," he said.
China will never belittle itself nor forget its roots, Xi said, adding that the country's contemporary history has proven the only right way to solve problems in China is to do so in a Chinese way, based on the Chinese reality.
In the 17 years since Deng died, the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), with Jiang Zemin at the core and then with Hu Jintao as general secretary, have adhered to the principles and policies adopted during Deng's time and made notable progress, he said.
"Today the relay baton is in our hands as well as the heavy responsibility," Xi said.
China will not stray from the cause of reform, opening-up and modernization, the president pledged.
He voiced his confidence in the success of the CPC and Chinese people in the 21st century, just as they had won in the 20th century.
Senior leaders Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli attended the event.
The symposium, held at the Great Hall of the People, was presided over by Liu Yunshan, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
CHIEF ARCHITECT OF CHINA'S REFORM
In his address, Xi praised Deng's achievements, describing him as "a prominent leader acknowledged by the whole Party, armed forces and Chinese people from all ethnic groups," "a great Marxist, revolutionary, statesman, military leader and diplomat," "a long-tested communist fighter," "the chief architect of China's socialist reform and opening up and modernization," "the pathfinder of socialism with Chinese characteristics" and "the main founder of Deng Xiaoping Theory."
Deng was born on Aug. 22, 1904 in southwest China's Sichuan Province. He was revered for his leadership of the country's modern-day transformation, starting in the 1970s.
The symposium is the latest event in a major campaign marking Deng's birth. It has seen publication of his works and official biography, while the state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) screened a 48-episode drama about Deng's experiences from 1976 to 1984.
Prof. Xie Chuntao, with the Party School of CPC Central Committee, told Xinhua, "When Deng is mentioned, reform and opening up is the first thing coming to our mind. As the country faces tough tasks to deepen reform, we need to bear his legacy in mind now more than ever."
Reform has been on the top of China's political agenda since the current leadership took office in late 2012. An important CPC Central Committee meeting in November unveiled a detailed roadmap for the overhaul.
President Xi personally heads the Leading Group for Overall Reform. At its four meetings so far, a dozen reform plans have been launched covering areas ranging from the fiscal system, household registration, judicial system, education to state-owned enterprises.
"As China's reforms enter a critical stage and a deep water zone, the country is faced with hard nuts to crack," said Dai Yanjun, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
In his speech, Xi said the leadership should learn from Deng for his political courage.
He voiced appreciation for Deng's pragmatic perspective to always "seek truth from facts" as well as political courage and sense of responsibility to test uncharted waters and break new ground.
"It was under Deng's leadership and with his support that the reform profoundly changed the images of the Chinese, socialist China and the CPC," he said.
Xi spoke highly of Deng's faith in Communism and affection for common people. He also praised his vision as a statesman and nobility as a leader.
He called on all Party members to fortify their loyalty to the ideals of communism and socialism with Chinese characteristics as well as devotion to the country and people.
"It is inevitable that the current leadership will carry on Deng's legacy and further develop it," Xie Chuntao said.
Xi shares Deng's commitment to finding a Chinese route for the country's development and to working for the nation's revival and people's well-being, as well as his courage and determination, Xie said.
However, the reform process faces very different challenges from 36 years ago. Instead of being a country devastated by the decade-long Cultural Revolution, China is the world's second-largest economy with a divided society having different interests and demands.
The current CPC leaders will have to try new methods and inject their own wisdom, Xie added.
China is still on a long and harsh path to reform, opening up and modernizing itself, along which creativity should be respected, Xi said.
"We should always be brave enough to explore and create," Xi said. "We shall proceed with reform and opening up without hesitation."
A popular anecdote about Deng shows how common people adored him three decades ago. During the National Day parade through Tiananmen Square in 1984, Peking University students unfurled a banner reading "Hello Xiaoping."
In Wednesday's speech, Xi quoted those words.
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