Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the beginning of the new century, we are gathered here at the United Nations headquarters in New York to hold the Special Session of General Assembly for an Overall Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II). I may take this opportunity to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government, sincere congratulations on the convocation of this Session and wish it a complete success.
Since Habitat II, five years ago, the Chinese government has fulfilled its commitments and implemented the "Habitat Agenda" seriously. As a result, great changes have taken place in the housing conditions and environment as well as appearance of both the urban and rural regions.
In the past five years, about 6.47 billion square meters of housing have been completed in China, of which 3.1 billion square meters of housing have been constructed in the urban region. The per capita floor area in the urban region has reached 20 square meters. Through the reform of the housing distribution systems, a new and market-oriented housing system has been established according to the Chinese conditions.
The development of small cities and towns has been promoted in the urbanization process. The urbanization rate has reached 36.09%. The classified urban and rural planning and management system has been established.
In the renewal of old towns and districts, preservation and protection of historic and cultural cities, historic streets, and cultural heritages of different nationalities have been emphasized so as to maintain and develop the urban culture.
The fast development of urban infrastructures has been realized with the introduction of market mechanism and the increase of investment.
The urban pollution control, environmental protection, greening and ecological construction have been promoted. The legal frameworks related to urban development and management have been improved.
Great progress has been made in the conquest of natural disasters, the post-disaster rehabilitation, the return of cultivated land to forests and the conservation of ecosystems. Social security systems have been established for vulnerable groups such as those for the poor, senior and persons with disabilities.
The Chinese government has attached importance to the initiatives and creation of the local governments in the field of human settlements. While enhancing the leading and macro-control role of the central government, we have continuously delegated the local authorities with more powers in decision-making and management within the legal framework of the Constitution, laws and regulations.
The Chinese government has provided special assistance through transfer payments to the less developed regions to narrow the gap between the poor and rich regions in order to realize the coordinated economic development and achieve the goal of common prosperity.
In order to realize the two objectives of Habitat II and implement the Habitat Agenda, the Chinese government believes that the economic development and poverty eradication are essential for the solution of human settlements problems. The international community should work together to promote economic growth, eradicate poverty and narrow the gap between the North and the South.
Since the political systems, economic development levels, cultures and traditions vary between countries, it is impossible to adopt one unified method or model to deal with human settlements problems. The sovereignty and legal frameworks of each country and its policies, strategies, plans and priorities of human settlements determined in light of the national conditions and capabilities should be respected.
The human settlements development should be sustained by coordinating with the growth of population, development of productive force, exploitation of natural resources and environmental protection.
To improve human settlements conditions in the developing countries is the key to the success of improving the global human settlements. Therefore, the developed countries should make efforts to narrow the gap between North and South from the common interests of all. They should also demonstrate their political determination and willingness to fulfil their commitments in financial assistance, technology transfer, capacity building, market access and debt relief to strengthen the capacity of the developing countries in addressing human settlements issues.
Equal emphasis should be put on the urban and rural regions in human settlements development. The human settlements development should not deal only with the construction and improvement of physical facilities but also with the cultivation and advancement of culture and spiritual moral.
The initiatives and creation of local authorities, non-governmental organizations, private sectors, women, youth and other Habitat Agenda partners should be mobilized and their cooperation enhanced for the improvement and development of human settlements.
We believe that there is no doubt that the central government plays an important role in human settlements development. It is also very important to bring into full play the role and initiatives of local governments in addressing human settlements issues. However, any tendency towards ignoring the national conditions and weakening the role of the central government while over-emphasizing "local self-government" in the administrative system and politicizing the human settlements issue will produce no positive result but adverse impact on the social stability and economic development of the developing countries and harm the development of human settlements.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the full cooperation and exchange with UNCHS, relevant international organizations and countries. The Chinese government has increased its contributions to UNCHS since 2001. It has cosponsored with UNCHS the successful "International Conference on Urban Construction and Environment" in Chengdu, China last year, at which experience of best practices in global human settlements has been shared. The Chinese government has also decided to establish a "China Habitat Award", the winners of which will apply for "Habitat Scroll of Honor".
Looking forward to the future characterized by economic globalization, we need to narrow the gap between the poor and rich in the world. We need to improve extensively the global human settlements. We need to enable the developing countries to keep pace with the times, free themselves from poverty and make greater progress. Let's work together to create a better tomorrow of the world.
Thank you, Mr. President.