Xinhua's top ten news events of 2008
BEIJING, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Xinhua top ten domestic news events of 2008, in chronological order, are:
-- Winter storms in south China. From late January until early February, the worst winter storms in decades hit large parts of southern and central China. They caused damage and paralyzed transport. The cost was 150 billion yuan (about 19 billion U.S. dollars).
-- China's two sessions . The annual sessions of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC),the top advisory body, were held in March in Beijing. Leaders of the state and CPPCC were selected and ministry restructuring decided upon.
-- March 14 riots in Lhasa . At least 18 innocent civilians were killed in the riots and rioters in the Tibetan capital caused much damage to property. The unrest was organized by the supporters of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan "independence" forces.
-- Wenchuan earthquake. A magnitude-8.0 earthquake hit Wenchuan County in southwest Sichuan Province on May 12. The quake, the most destructive natural disaster to hit China for decades, left more than 87,000 people dead or missing and millions homeless. The cost was put at more than 845 billion yuan. The country was mobilized for disaster relieve reconstruction which is still ongoing.
-- The successful hosting of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and of the Paralympics . Beijing successfully hosted the Games of the 29th Olympiad from August 8 to August 24. More than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries and regions took part in 302 events in 28 sports. Athletes from a record 87 National Olympic Committees - the most yet - won medals. The Games saw 43 world records and 132 Olympic records set. From September 6 to September 17, over 4,000 athletes from more than 140 countries took part in the Summer Paralympic Games.
-- Tainted milk scandal. China's tainted dairy scandal was exposed in September after babies who were fed milk powder, produced by the Hebei Province-based Sanlu Group, developed kidney stones. Other top dairy firms were also involved, including Meng Niu. The contamination of baby milk formula killed six babies and more than 290,000 infants suffered from urinary problems such as kidney stones after drinking the tainted milk formula. The scandal led to the resignation of China's chief quality supervisor Li Changjiang. Several officials were sacked, arrests were made and the government is working on overhauling the country's dairy industry.
-- China's first space walk . On September 27, Chinese taikonaut Zhai Zhigang, wearing a Chinese-made Feitian space suit, conducted a 20-minute space walk. China is only the third nation to successfully send a man on a spacewalk, behind Russia and the United States.
-- The Chinese government sets forward plans to increase domestic demand and maintain economic growth rate. In the face of the global financial crisis, The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council announced 10 measures in November, including a 4-trillion-yuan stimulus package , to boost domestic demand and maintain economic growth.
The three-day annual tone-setting Central Economic Work Conference convened at beginning of December decided to focus on maintaining a stable and relatively fast economic growth in 2009'seconomic work.
-- Direct air and sea transport and postal services across the Taiwan Strait.
Between Nov. 3 to 7, Chen Yunlin, president of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), headed a delegation visit to Taiwan, the first ARATS leader to visit the island. During their first meeting in Taipei, Chen and Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation, signed agreements on direct shipping and flights, as well as postal services.
Since Dec. 15, the two sides have launched direct air and sea transport as well as postal services between several mainland cities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Fuzhou and Shenzhen, and Taiwan cities, such as Taipei, Kaohsiung and Keelung
-- Grand gathering to celebrate the 30th anniversary of China's launch of reform and opening up .
A grand gathering was held on Dec. 18 to celebrate the decision made at the third plenary session of the 11th Central Committee of the CPC in 1978 to open up the once isolated country and reform its moribund economy.
The landmark policy adopted 30 years ago turned China from a poverty-stricken country into the world's fourth largest economy in terms of gross domestic product.
During the gathering, President Hu Jintao addressed the nation and called to further advance the great cause of reform and opening up while holding tight the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics.