In his address to the five-yearly Congress of the Communist Party of China, Hu urged the government of China, whose economy has been booming in recent years, to quadruple GDP by 2020, and reiterated the leadership's intent to maintain Chinese sovereignty over self-governing Taiwan.
In his two-hour speech to more than 2,200 delegates, Hu said China was determined to help maintain peace in the world and posed no military threat to other countries. The United States has repeatedly expressed concerns over China's growing military might. Beijing is part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a six-nation security alliance that includes Russia and is widely viewed as an Asian counterbalance to NATO.
"China follows a defensive policy, is not participating in arms races, and is no military threat to other countries," Hu said. "China is against any hegemony or forceful policy, and will never aspire for hegemony or expansion."
Hu welcomed a multipolar world. "Multipolar trends have become irreversible ... the distribution of forces in the world is conducive to maintaining peace," he said.
The Chinese leader also said the country would continue "to develop regional interaction to create an atmosphere of peace, stability, equal rights, mutual trust and beneficial cooperation in the region."
On domestic policy, the leader, whose country has around 20% of the world's population, said gross domestic product (GDP) must be quadrupled by 2020 compared to 2000, a goal which he called an important aspect of a middle-class-based society.
However, he expressed concern that China's rapid economic development was being achieved at the expense of "resources and environment."
"We will increase average GDP per capita four-fold by 2020 against 2000 by upgrading the economic structure, increasing efficiency, cutting costs and protecting the environment," Hu said.
In the past four years, China's GDP has grown 10% annually and reached $2.7 trillion in 2006. GDP per capita in 2006 was $2,042, which is 20% more than the previous year.
Hu said China would become "a global leader in terms of domestic market" by 2020, and promised that living standards would rise accordingly.
"We will introduce a system of balanced and regulated distribution of income to make sure that people with medium incomes make up the majority, and we will largely put an end to poverty," Hu said.
Currently only urban residents who worked for major state companies receive pensions in China and are eligible for medical insurance. The rural population has neither the right to free medical services or pensions.
The Chinese leader reiterated his government's determination to retain the island of Taiwan, which has been de facto independent following a 1927-1950 Communist-Nationalist Civil War.
"We will stick to the principle of one China, continue efforts to peacefully reunite the country, and wage an uncompromising fight against separatists who want an independent Taiwan," Hu said.
Taiwan is governed by the Democratic Progressive Party, which won its first presidential elections in 2000 after over 50 years of the Nationalist rule.
Currently the Kuomintang, or the Nationalist Party, is in opposition in Taiwan. The party is a partner for the Chinese Communists because it recognizes the principle of one China, even though the civil war technically continues due to the lack of a peace deal between the two parties.
In 2005, the central Chinese authorities passed a bill allowing the use of force to prevent the country's split.