BEIJING, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- With Chinese knot-shaped decorations lighting up the streets and New Year couplets adorning the doors of people's homes, China is getting in the spirit of Lunar New Year, the Year of the Tiger.
Tiger, one of the 12 animal signs of the Chinese zodiac, symbolizes strength, bravery and fearlessness, which is exactly what people are wishing for following two rough years under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many Chinese households as well as the country and humanity as a whole, the Year of the Tiger 2022 is heralding joy, confidence, and most importantly, hope.
GIGGLES OF "TIGER BABIES"
Jin Yongjian from Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, is expecting his first child in January of the lunar calendar and hence he is going to nickname the baby "Hu-tou" or "tiger head" in English.
Jin and his wife, both in their early thirties, had put their pregnancy plan on hold after the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. The couple resumed their attempt to conceive a baby last year.
"The epidemic situation in China in 2022 is certain to improve, as the government has demonstrated the ability to contain COVID-19 resurgences in a timely manner," said Jin. "We are really fortunate to be having a 'tiger baby,' and wish it bears the strength and confidence of a tiger."
In Xiamen, east China's Fujian Province, Lin Fen, mother of a four-year-old boy, is keeping her fingers crossed as her three-member family would be graced with a "tiger baby" sometime in the following 12 months. Lin had not planned on having another child but a change in the country's population policy came as a blessing.
In July 2021, China announced a policy plan to allow couples to have a third child, which was followed by a slew of supportive measures and a law amendment. Thanks to the new policy, a more childbirth-friendly system for institutions is in the making.
Supportive measures at both local and national levels include extended paternity leave, extra parental leave, enhanced public services in childcare and preschool education, as well as restrictions on after-school tutoring during compulsory education.
"For some of my friends and myself, it is a good time to consider having a second or third kid. Our concerns over the heavy burdens of bearing, raising and educating children have been addressed in the national policy design," Lin said.
CONFIDENCE IN ECONOMIC RESILIENCE
It was in 2010, the previous Year of the Tiger, when China overtook Japan as the world's second-largest economy.
Twelve years later, the country's economy, against the backdrop of a pandemic unseen in a century, is expected to maintain the trend of recovery and demonstrate the vitality of the tiger.
While the global economy is struggling to emerge from the impacts of COVID-19, China saw a strong rebound in 2021, with 8.1-percent economic growth. The pace is well above its target of "above 6 percent" and it brought the 2020-2021 average growth at 5.1 percent.
With the new year dawning, China will prioritize stability while pursuing progress. Despite pressure from demand contraction, supply shocks and weakening expectations, China has ample favorable conditions for its economic growth, with strong resilience, a complete industrial chain, rich human resources, convenient infrastructure and a huge domestic market.
On the first day of 2022, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, the world's largest free trade deal to date, came into force.
The landmark event has not only sent a firm signal to support free trade and uphold the multilateral trading system, but also marked a strong start for China in the new year in pursuing wider opening-up and sharing development opportunities with the world, which injects strong impetus into the global economic recovery.
HOPES OF GREATER UNITY
On Feb. 4, the fourth day of the Year of the Tiger, nearly 3,000 athletes from approximately 90 countries and regions are expected to display sporting excellence during the Beijing Winter Olympics like "soaring dragons and leaping tigers."
The Games features the largest number of events and gold medals in the history of the Winter Olympics. Many countries have this year sent delegations to attend the Winter Olympics for the first time.
Being the first international multi-sport event to be held as scheduled since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing 2022 is expected to be a manifestation of solidarity, championing the new Olympic motto of "Faster, Higher, Stronger - Together."
Before departing for Beijing for the Games from Singapore in late January, Vice President of the International Olympic Committee Ng Ser Miang told Xinhua that he believes that the two-week event carries extraordinary significance at a time of the pandemic.
"It's a show that the world can really come together to achieve something that even the pandemic can not stop," Ng said. ■