Chinese president pledges billions for poor countries

  • 27/09/2015
Chinese President Xi Jinping (Reuters)
Chinese President Xi Jinping (Reuters)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged US$2 billion (NZ$3.12 billion) for a new development fund for poor countries on a UN visit aimed at showcasing Beijing's growing global role.

Xi's announcement, made in his first-ever address to the United Nations, follows long-standing criticism from the United States and other developed countries that China has not taken responsibilities in line with its aspirations for a greater global role.

The speech is the latest high-profile move for Xi on a trip that has included a White House state visit and will see him chair a UN forum on women's rights on Sunday.

Addressing a UN summit on development, Xi said China would act "by putting justice before interests and joining other countries in a concerted effort to realise the post-2015 agenda."

Xi said that China would launch an assistance fund for developing countries with an initial investment of $US2 billion.

The Chinese leader said that his country would also step up investment in UN-defined least developed countries - which are mostly in Africa - by at least $US12 billion by 2030.

In January, Xi promised $US250 billion in investment over 10 years in Latin America, which the United States has long considered its sphere of influence.

Xi said China would also relieve debts owed by least developed countries this year. He did not provide a figure on the debts or say which countries would be affected.

The United Nations on Friday set a goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, an effort that the global body says could require up to $US5 trillion a year.

China's economy has soared over the past 15 years to become the world's second largest after the US, although concerns have been rising in recent months over the country's financial markets and long-term growth.

China retains little stake in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and with a reform plan for the Washington-based institutions blocked by US Republican lawmakers, China has set up its own lender, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The bank, which Xi reaffirmed would open soon, has widely been seen as a way for China to dilute the influence of the US and Japan, the most prominent holdouts from the new lender.

"It is important to improve global economic governance, increase the representation and voice of developing countries and give all countries equal right to participating in international rule-making," Xi said.