President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year speech Thursday evening in Beijing to ring in 2021. [Photo/Xinhua] President Xi Jinping's New Year's address has emphasized the importance of people and set important national development and economic goals for 2021, global experts said. Christopher Bovis, a professor of international business law at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, said Xi welcomed the New Year by praising the resilience and courage of the Chinese people and their efforts to combat the pandemic over the past year. He appreciated that Xi reaffirmed China's commitment to international cooperation, multilateralism, and continuous reform of domestic systems which will focus on economic growth without losing touch with policies destined to promote human development and the protection of individuals. Rana Mitter, a professor of the history and politics of modern China at the University of Oxford, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has been an economic blow to the entire world. "China can take a lead by making it clear that mutual trade, open markets, and a genuine willingness to exchange human capital and talent across borders will create a high-value global economy for all," he said. Noting that Xi put an emphasis on revitalizing rural China in his address, Joe Thomas Karackattu from the China Studies Centre at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras said it seems to be a strong directional message and is crucial for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25). Xi's statement that China should create more "stories of spring" is inextricably linked to fostering more interdependence with the rest of the world, he said. "The economic dimension is also paired with the societal dimension of 'a shared future for mankind'. Clearly, China's outreach to the world is being projected as a multidimensional effort," said Karackattu. "It is interesting to note Xi's stress on a new pattern for development for China, built on the cornerstone of 'high-quality' development," Karackattu said."Clearly the direction for the Chinese economy to focus on innovative growth is underlined in his message." Gerald Mbanda, founder of Africa China Review, a website focusing on news reports and commentary on China-Africa cooperation, said Xi's speech dwelt much on the COVID-19 pandemic, in which he lauded the country's efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and took time to thank different institutions, professionals and ordinary citizens for their hard work and sacrifice. He said that Xi's advocacy for a community with a shared future for mankind was more significant and relevant in 2020, as no single country could claim to win the war against the pandemic without working together with other countries. Jon Taylor, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said Xi's speech set important national development and economic goals while also noting some significant milestones that will take place in 2021, such as the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. He said there was also a quote that was notable for its recognition of the hard work of the average Chinese citizen in 2020: "Greatness is forged in the ordinary. Heroes come from the people. Every person is remarkable." Adhere Cavince, a scholar of international relations focusing on China-Africa relations, said that due to the resilience and sacrifice of the Chinese people, the successful fight against the pandemic enabled China to resume economic activity and register positive growth while sharing its epidemic control experience, commodities and medical personnel with the rest of the world. "The donation of millions of essential commodities including ventilators, face masks, protective clothing and medicine to developing economies, especially in Africa, set China apart as a major country that values global cooperation and solidarity against the biggest threat to the international community," he said. Another key point from Xi's speech that resonated with the rest of the world was the transition of China to a moderately prosperous society. By kicking extreme poverty out of its borders, Beijing has shown that the war against poverty, as outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, is attainable. Sikhumbuzo Zondi, a research assistant at the Institute for Global Dialogue, which is associated with the University of South Africa, said Xi's speech highlighted the fact that the sudden rise of the coronavirus pandemic has emphasized the importance of valuing human life by putting people at the center of government action.ang Han in Hong Kong, Han Baoyi in London, Liu Hongjie and Chen Yingqun in Beijing contributed to this story.