H. E. Mr. President
Ladies and Gentleman,
First of all, on behalf of the Chinese delegation and in my own name, I wish to extend my congratulations to Your Excellency on your assumption of the presidency of the current Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Chinese delegation will work together with Your Excellency and other delegations for the complete success of this Special Session.
Since the convening of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) five years ago, the international community and various governments have made sustained efforts for the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. We are pleased to see that the essentials and principles laid down by the ICPD are now embodied in the macro policies formulated by various governments and that they are carried forward in practices in various countries and are universally accepted by various governments, non-governmental organisations and the general public. Through legislation, policy-readjustment, programme improvement, promotion of NGO's roles and international co-operation and exchanges, many countries have made encouraging progress in improving women's status, promoting gender equalities, making education universal, improving reproductive health and family planning services, decreasing fertility rate, maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate. This has brought about an advance in socio--economic development and improvement in people's health and welfare.
In the meantime, we have also noticed that we have quite a long way to go for reaching our goals as defined in the ICPD Programme of Action. The economic crisies and natural disasters in some countries have seriously dragged down the progress in implementing the Programme of Action. Local wars and regional conflicts have posed grave challenges to the world peace and development. Social impartiality and justice have been gravely threatened by power politics and hegemonism. Now , the basic needs of many couples and individuals world-wide for reproductive health and family planning are left ungratified. The environmental deterioration in some countries and areas is doing harm to people's health and especially the reproductive health of women. There exists a notable shortage of funds in implementing the Programme of Action. The international commitment for aid is far from being fulfilled. It should be pointed out that the official population aid has been drastically decreased instead of being increased at the juncture when Asian countries are faced with financial crises, Latin-American countries are burdened with external debts and African countries are increasingly marginalized in economic globalization. Therefore, we believe that it is necessary and timely to hold the current Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Cairo Conference, and to reiterate the principles and spirit of the Programme of Action, summarise experience and draw lessons, discuss the existing obstacles and seek possible solutions. It is certain that current Special Session will exert a positive impact on boosting further implementation of the Programme of Action.
In the past fifty years, especially the past twenty years, the Chinese government and people have carried out a reform and opening-up policy and have devoted themselves to the modernisation drive. With economic activities and social undertakings flourishing, the people have enjoyed a much better life. China's population programme has played a positive role in the process. China is the most populous developing country in the world. Starting from the long-term interests of its people, the Chinese government has taken its population issue as a strategic one, has integrated it into the overall programme for its national socio-economic development and has implemented the population and family planning programme since early 1970s. Since the Cairo Conference, the Chinese government has taken it as an important task on its agenda to implement the Programme of Action, formulated the National Family Planning Programme of China (1995-2000) and defined the long-term goals for its population and family planning work for the first half of the 21st century. The Government regards sustainable development as the major strategic principle and takes the population issue in broader perspectives and addresses it in a holistic way. The population and family planning program of China lays more stresses on improving the population quality while keeping control of the quantity. While opposed to coercion, more emphases have been laid on the integrated approach with more information, education, communication and quality services in reproductive health and family planning. The role of the civil society and NGOs has also been brought into play. Special attention has been paid to the integration of the rural family planning program with economic development, poverty-alleviation, and popularisation of education, improvement of women's status, provision of social security and transformation of the old-fashioned family concepts. The central government and local governments have enacted laws to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of women, girls, the elderly, the minor and the handicapped. Currently, China's total population is 1. 248 billion with a natural increase rate of 9.53 per thousand. The total fertility rate has gone down to around 2.0. The mortality rate is 6.51 per thousand, with infant mortality rate of 33. 03 per thousand and maternal mortality rate of 61.9 per one hundred thousand. The average life expectancy has gone up to 70.8 years. China's population reproduction in urban and most rural areas has been basically transformed into a pattern characterised by low birth rate, low death rate and low growth rate. The success of China's population and family planning programme has not only stabilised China's population and promoted her socio-economic development, but also greatly contributed to the stabilisation of global population.
Meanwhile, we are fully aware that China still faces grave challenges in the field of population and development. The annual increase of about 12 million people exerts a great pressure upon China's socio-economic development, resource utilization, environment protection and such things as education, medical care, housing, communications and transportation, employment, social security etc. The shortage of funds makes it difficult to fully meet the people's needs for quality service in the area of reproductive health and family planning. The occurrence of China's population aging at a time when the productive forces are still not quite developed will surely bring many new problems to the socio-economic development. We hope that the international co-operation in the field of population and development will be further strengthened to facilitate a faster and better solution to the problems we are now confronted with.
I wish to take this opportunity to set forth briefly the position and principles of the Chinese government on the international co-operation in the field of population and development and further implementation of the Programme of Action.
First of all, the Chinese government believes that population goes hand in hand with development. The population issue should be considered and addressed in the overall situation of socio-economic development. Efforts should be exerted to make co-ordinated development between population growth and socio-economic development, resource utilisation and environmental protection so as to realise sustainable development. The Chinese government respects human rights in the field of population and development. We believe that it is of first importance to safeguard the right of existence and right of development of all nations and people and that development is the basis for promoting and safeguarding human rights. Human rights are devoid of meaning without this basis.
Secondly, international co-operation in regard to population and development should be undertaken with full respect for the principle of sovereignty. While implementing the Programme of Action, the sovereignty and national conditions of each country should be respected. The differences in economic development levels, history and cultural traditions, religious beliefs and moral standards of individual countries should all be taken into full consideration. Any disregard of such differences will only lead to failure in reaching the goals as defined in the Programme of Action.
Thirdly, a successful solutions to the problem of funding is the key to the implementation of the Programme of Action. We appeal to the international community, especially the developed countries to fulfil their commitment made at the Cairo Conference and provide financial aid to developing countries and help them to overcome the actual difficulties encountered in the field of population and development. China hopes that this Special Session will put forward action-oriented proposals to solve this problem.
Despite the considerable growth of unstable factors in the present international situation, we believe that the desire for peace and development is still the mainstream and it is in the fundamental interests of the people all over the world to promote peace and development. We hope that the current Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly will be a turning point to push forward the full implementation of the Program of Action and also bring a new starting point for international co-operation in population and development. In the population and other fields, the Chinese government and people will, together with various governments and peoples, dedicate themselves to the world peace and human progress.
Thank you, Mr. President.