Asia Pacific Welcomes New Year

Posted December 31st, 2011 at 10:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Southeast Asian countries were among the first to welcome the New Year with fireworks, laser lights, street parties and outdoor performances.

Sydney, Australia, and Hong Kong set the standard with glittering extravaganzas in their harbors.

Chinese main cities Beijing and Shanghai hosted lavish light shows in their central squares.

Chinese President Hu Jintao in his message broadcast by radio and television Saturday said China will continue to develop friendly exchanges with other countries and cooperate on global issues. He promised that the country's economy will develop with people's well-being in mind.

He said the world will have a better future if people of all countries work together.

The mood was somewhat less cheerful in Tokyo where celebrations were overshadowed by memories of January's earthquake and tsunami.

In his New Year's message to the Japanese people, Emperor Akihito expressed hope that everyone will cooperate to rebuild Japanese society after the natural disasters of 2011.

North Korean leaders pledged prosperity in the year 2012, starting under the new leadership of Kim Jong Un.