China will play its part in defending the international order and combating climate change while working to raise living standards for its own people, President Xi Jinping pledged Sunday in a New Year speech.

Xi said the nation was committed to economic reforms in 2018, the 40th anniversary of the transformation led by Deng Xiaoping, “as reform and opening-up is the path we must take to make progress in contemporary China and to realise the Chinese dream”.

In a speech quoted by the state Xinhua news agency, Xi said that by 2020 all rural residents living below the current poverty line should have been lifted out of poverty.

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It would be the first time in thousands of years of Chinese history that extreme poverty had been eliminated, he said.

“It is our solemn promise,” Xi said.

The president also acknowledged shortfalls in the government’s work.

“That is why we should strengthen our sense of responsibility and do a good job of ensuring the people’s well-being,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

“The well-being of our people is the Party and the government’s greatest political achievement.”

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Xi Jinping. Photo: CGTN screenshot.

On international affairs, Xi said China “will resolutely uphold the authority of the United Nations”, actively fulfil the nation’s international obligations and remain firmly committed to its pledges to tackle climate change.

His stance puts him at odds with US President Donald Trump, who has sharply criticised the UN and vowed to quit the 2015 Paris accord on combating climate change.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.