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Xi says China is on 'right side of history'



China "stands on the right side of history," the country's leader Xi Jinping said Saturday in a New Year's address that came as questions swirl over his government's handling of COVID-19 and economic and political challenges at home and abroad.

Speaking on national television from behind a desk in a wood-paneled office, Xi largely avoided directly addressing issues confronting the country, pointing instead to successes in agricultural production, poverty elimination and its hosting of the Winter Olympics in February.

However, he later turned somewhat obliquely to the challenges facing the world's most populous country and second-largest economy, saying, "The world is not at peace."

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China will "always steadfastly advocate for peace and development and unswervingly stands on the right side of history," he said.

Recent weeks have seen street protests against Xi's government, the first facing the ruling Communist Party in more than three decades.

Xi's speech follows a stunning U-turn on China's hard-line COVID-19 containment policy that has sparked a massive surge in infections and demands from the US and others for travelers from China to prove they aren't infected.

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