Chinese President Hu Jintao praised Dr. Sun Yat-sen, forerunner of China's democratic revolution, as an outstanding patriot and national hero at a grand gathering to commemorate Sun's 140th birth anniversary in Beijing on Sunday.
Hu, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said in a speech delivered at the gathering that Dr. Sun's pioneering spirit in seeking truth, patriotism, devotion to the public and broad vision are valuable legacies for the Chinese people.
"In our great cause of rejuvenating the Chinese nation, these legacies remain enlightening and instructive, and we should always learn from them and carry them forward," Hu said.
Hu called on people of all ethnic groups, compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and all Chinese in the world who respect Dr. Sun Yat-sen to unite and strive harder for China's full reunification, the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and the building of a harmonious world featuring lasting peace and common prosperity.
Top CPC and state officials Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Zeng Qinghong, Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun and Luo Gan also attended the gathering in the Great Hall of the People, together with about 3,000 people including CPC, government and military officials, non-Communist personages, Dr. Sun's relatives and delegates from all walks of life.
Dr. Sun is known across the country as a "great revolutionist and statesman" who fought against feudalism and imperialist aggression and for the independence and freedom of the Chinese people.
He was born in 1866 in Xiangshan County (now Zhongshan City) in south China's Guangdong Province and died of illness in Beijing (then called Beiping) on March 12, 1925.
At the commemoration meeting, Hu recalled Dr. Sun's life. Dr. Sun Yat-sen lived through the second half of the 19th century to the early part of the 20th century, a period when China, invaded and bullied by imperialist powers and ruled by the decadent feudal forces, was reduced to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society, Hu said.
Dr. Sun led the people in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty during the 1911 Revolution, thus ending the feudal autocratic monarchy that had lasted for more than 2,000 years in China.
He dedicated all his life to the nation's independence, reunification and prosperity, and also to the people's rights, freedom, democracy and livelihood, Hu noted.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen regarded Chinese Communists as his good friends, and Chinese communists have always been staunch supporters, cooperators and successors of Sun Yat-sen's revolutionary cause, Hu said.
Since his death, Chinese Communists have carried on his cause. They have rallied and led the Chinese people of various ethnic groups and all patriotic forces in winning victory of the new democratic revolution, establishing a socialist state, and implementing socialist construction.
Since the reform and opening in the 1970s, the Chinese Communist Party has led the Chinese people in building socialism with Chinese characteristics and scored great achievements recognized by the whole world, bringing about fundamental changes in China.
We have put an end to the worries of Dr. Sun Yat-sen by transforming forever the old China that was poor and weak, the livelihood of Chinese people Dr. Sun cared about so much has improved tremendously, China's modernization, which was always in his mind, is gradually becoming a reality, and the prospect of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is unfolding before us, Hu said.
Dr. Sun said that "the unity of the nation is the wish of all the Chinese nationals. Once the reunification is achieved, the people of China will enjoy happiness; if the reunification cannot be accomplished, they will suffer."
Hu quoted these remarks of Dr. Sun and said to realize the full reunification of the country is in the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation and it is the sacred responsibility of the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, Hu said.
He called on people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to work hand in hand to contribute to the development of cross-Strait relations and the full reunification of the country.
In the evening, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held a reception for relatives of Dr. Sun, noted personages from Taiwan, delegates of overseas Chinese and foreign friends, who came to attend the commemoration gathering.