BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- "What is people first?" Chinese President Xi Jinping asked, before offering his own answer when he was talking with lawmakers at the ongoing national legislative session.
"So many people worked together to save a single patient. This, in essence, embodies doing whatever it takes (to save lives)," he said.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, is a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress.
During his deliberations with fellow deputies from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Friday, "people" was a keyword.
Xi referred to a story told by another deputy that morning. Luo Jie, from the COVID-19 hard-hit province of Hubei, told reporters at the session how medical workers in his hospital spent 47 days saving an 87-year-old COVID-19 patient.
"About 10 medical workers meticulously took care of the patient for dozens of days, and finally saved the patient's life," Xi said. "I am really impressed."
In the COVID-19 pandemic, health workers around the world got to know the elderly are the most difficult to treat and require the most sophisticated medical resources. China has given every patient equal treatment irrespective of their age or wealth.
In Hubei alone, more than 3,600 COVID-19 patients over the age of 80 have been cured. In the provincial capital Wuhan, seven centenarian patients have been cured.
"We mobilized from around the nation the best doctors, the most advanced equipment and the most needed resources to Hubei and Wuhan, going all out to save lives," Xi said during the deliberations, adding that the eldest patient cured is 108 years old.
"We are willing to save lives at all costs. No matter how old the patients are and how serious their conditions have become, we never give up," Xi said.
Xi joined political advisors and lawmakers on Thursday and Friday in paying silent tribute to the lives lost to COVID-19 as the top political advisory body and the national legislature opened their annual sessions.
This year's government work report said China's economy posted negative growth in the first quarter of this year, but it was "a price worth paying" to contain COVID-19 as life is invaluable.
"As a developing country with 1.4 billion people, it is only by overcoming enormous difficulties that China has been able to contain COVID-19 in such a short time while also ensuring our people's basic needs," the report said.
Epidemic response is a reflection of China's governing philosophy.
The fundamental goal for the Party to unite and lead the people in revolution, development and reform is "to ensure a better life for them," Xi said.
The nation's average life expectancy reached 77 years in 2018, more than double that in 1949, when the people's republic was founded.
Chinese people are not just living longer but better lives, with more material wealth and broader choices to pursue individual dreams. All rural poor will bid farewell to poverty this year as part of the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
The Party's long-term governance, Xi said, rests on "always maintaining close bond with the people."
"We must always remain true to the people's aspiration and work in concert with them through thick and thin," Xi said.