China pledges $2.9 billion to fight poverty
CHINESE President Xi Jinping has told the United Nations that China would pledge US$2 billion (S$2.9 billion) as an initial investment for development assistance to the world's poorest countries.
In his first address at the UN, which was made at a summit meeting on development on Saturday, Mr Xi said China would increase the funds to US$12 billion over the next 15 years to help UN reach its goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030, reported The New York Times.
In making the pledge, China was "putting justice before interests," Mr Xi said.
"To solve various global challenges, including the recent refugee crisis in Europe, the fundamental solutions lie in seeking peace and realising development," he said.
Mr Xi also said China would start 600 foreign assistance projects to give support to the poverty elimination project.
In addition, China would relieve debts owed by the least developed countries this year.
The 193-member UN General Assembly had earlier on Friday set a goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 - an effort that the global body says could require up to US$5 trillion a year, reported Agence France-Presse.
The agenda is the most far-reaching ever, capping years of debate, reported Reuters.
After the speech, Mr Xi hosted a round table with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on South-South cooperation, at which the president announced the setting up of an academy to share China's development experience with less-developed countries, reported China's state-owned Xinhua news agency.
The pledge to UN comes as China faces increasing criticism that its aid commitment remains far below levels of Western countries.
"It reflects an acceptance of China's increasing global responsibility," said Douglas Paal, vice-president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The United States in 2013 provided more than US$30 billion, and Britain, France, Germany and Japan all gave more than US$11 billion, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
China had not decided whether the US$2 billion would be distributed as cash or in loans, Zhang Jun, director general for economic affairs at China's foreign ministry, told the media after Mr Xi's speech.
Chinese officials said the 600 projects would be funded separately.
Earlier on Friday during his visit to Washington, Mr Xi had promised US$3.1 billion to help developing countries adapt to climate change.