Chinese President Hu Jintao has put clean government and a more even distribution of wealth at the top of his political agenda.
Mr Hu's speech sets the tone for the autumn Communist Party congress
Mr Hu said the fight against corruption was a prominent part of his plans, and he added that an anti-poverty target must be met by 2020.
His keynote speech was delivered to senior Chinese officials.
Correspondents say it sets the tone for an important Communist Party meeting in the autumn.
Mr Hu was addressing all senior members of the ruling party, as well as leaders of the military, the provinces and the bureaucracy.
"Reform and opening up is an inevitable path to realise the Chinese nation's great rejuvenation... and should be pushed forward unswervingly," the official People's Daily quoted him as saying.
But he added that "our country's political reforms must adhere to a correct political direction... and adhere to the party's leadership".
Mr Hu emphasised said he wanted to achieve a "basically well-off society" by 2020.
"This is where the interests of all the nation's ethnic groups lie," he is quoted as saying.
The speech comes ahead of the 17th Communist Party Congress in October, a five-yearly event during which Mr Hu will unveil the party's plans for the future.
He is also expected to use the congress to further consolidate his power, through a reshuffle of the top leadership.