National medals, other awards given to people who 'demonstrate with their actions that greatness comes out of the ordinary'
President Xi Jinping called on the Party and whole nation to remain as committed and hardworking as the heroes and role models who received national awards on Sunday.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark in a speech during the presentation ceremony for national medals and honorary titles.
Forty-two Chinese and foreign individuals were honored for their contributions to the country ahead of its 70th founding anniversary. The honorees include the "father of hybrid rice" Yuan Longping and Nobel Prize winner Tu Youyou, who is credited with discovering the antimalarial drug artemisinin.
Xi conveyed his congratulations and respect to the heroes and role models who received the Medal of the Republic and honorary titles, and to foreign friends, who received the Medal of Friendship.
Noting that the people honored are outstanding representatives of all who have contributed to the cause of the Party and nation, Xi said their contributions will always be marked in history.
When people respect and praise heroes, more heroes will arise, Xi said, adding that the Party and State have always attached great importance to recognizing such people.
"Today, we honor these heroes and role models with the highest standards to promote their qualities of loyalty, perseverance and humbleness," he said.
Xi highlighted their loyalty to the cause of the Party and the people, their dedication to hard work for decades in fields where the Party and the people needed them most and their humbleness in making huge sacrifices in ordinary jobs without pursuing fame or self-interest.
"Heroes and role models once again demonstrate with their actions that greatness comes out of the ordinary," Xi said.
Adhering to firm ideals and convictions and working tirelessly to fulfill their role, every ordinary person can have an extraordinary life and every ordinary job can produce extraordinary achievements, Xi said.
He encouraged the awardees to cherish the honor and influence more people with their strong faith, belief and confidence.
Also, he said, "We have sincere gratitude for the recipients of the Friendship Medal for their contribution to China's development", adding that the Chinese people are willing to work with people of all countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind and make the planet a better place.
Huang Xuhua, chief designer of China's first generation of nuclear submarines, delivered a speech at the ceremony on behalf of those awarded the Medal of the Republic.
Huang said the medal is not just for him but for everyone who dedicated their career to Chinese submarines.
"My colleagues and I have dedicated our whole lives to our motherland, and we have nothing to regret," he said, receiving warm applause from the audience.
On behalf of those awarded the Medal of Friendship, Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn said all six foreign awardees are "indeed friends of China" who would like to contribute to friendship between their countries and China.
"Distance cannot separate true friends, who remain close even when thousands of miles apart," she said, citing the words of Zhang Jiu?ling, a renowned poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).