|Statement by Ambassador Zhang Yishan at 44th Session of the Commission for Social Development on Review of the 1st UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (Item 3a)|
First of all, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, I would like to congratulate you on your election as chairman of this session of the CSD. We are confident that this session will be crowned with success under your outstanding leadership. My congratulations also go to the other four members of the bureau on their election.
China wishes to thank the Secretary General for his report submitted under the priority theme of "Review of the First UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty." The report provides a comprehensive and objective analysis of the current state in the fight against poverty around the world as well as the challenges that lie ahead, and makes an array of constructive recommendations. We appreciate the efforts that the Secretariat has undertaken in this regard.
In this day and age when science and technology are making giant strides amid rapid globalization, poverty remains a threat to the peace and development of humankind. According to statistics, one sixth of the population of the world live in extreme poverty. The situation in sub-Saharan Africa is of particular concern. Facts prove that prolonged poverty and underdevelopment are among the major root causes for armed conflicts, social upheavals, the spread of HIV/AIDS, humanitarian crises, terrorism, and other banes that plague the world.
During the decade from the 1995 WSSD to the Millennium Summit to the 2005 World summit, a lot has been done around the world to fight against poverty and implement the MDGs. However, for a variety of reasons, results in the global fight against poverty still fall short of expectations. Hunger, disease, and poverty still beset many developing countries. Achieving the goals of poverty eradication and development at the global level remains a long uphill journey. The very fact that poverty eradication has been adopted as the priority theme for the 44th session of the CSD is therefore of great relevance to reality.
Poverty as witnessed in today's world, while partly attributable to domestic social and historical reasons and natural conditions, is also closely related to the inequitable and unjust international economic order. To alleviate and eradicate poverty is not only an economic issue but also a political one. It is not only an urgent task of the countries concerned but is also a shared responsibility of the international community. In this connection, I would like to make the following proposals on the priority theme.
First, build a peaceful and stable international environment. A peaceful environment is indispensable for human progress and development. Peace and stability are prerequisites for the eradication of poverty and promotion of development. The absence of peace and stability means the absence of any safeguard for development, and poverty eradication will hardly stand a chance. The international community must strive to build a peaceful international regional environment, contain conflicts, and attain domestic social stability, so as to create favorable conditions for the promotion of development and eradication of poverty.
Second, enhance a global partnership that will lead to win-win results and shared prosperity. The international community must make poverty eradication its first priority in strengthening cooperation in international development, and orient economic globalization towards achieving win-win results and prosperity for all. This is an endeavor where the leading and coordinating role of the UN is indispensable. While the developing countries should improve their ability to compete through their own efforts and cooperation, it is even more necessary for the developed countries to take effective measures to address priority issues such as poverty eradication, financial assistance, and debt relief, achieve the target of 0.7% of GNP for ODA, and help accelerate the development of developing countries, especially African countries and LDCs.
Third, respect diversified development modalities. The key to development at the country level lies in the selection of ways and modalities of development suitable to national conditions. In recent years, some developing countries, by giving play to their own advantages and effectively utilizing opportunities provided by economic globalization and the advances in science and technology, have achieved rapid development and accumulated useful experience. We must increase exchanges of experience in development and reinforce the capacity of countries to develop themselves.
Being the most populous developing country in the world, China is a major actor in poverty eradication at the global level. More than two decades into its reform and opening up, China is enjoying economic stability, rapid growth, and markedly improved living standards. We are also developing social programs in all fields. The number of people in poverty fell from 250 million in 1978 to 26.1 million by the end of 2004. The proportion of poor people in rural population declined from 30.7% in 1978 to 2.8% in 2004. China has achieved ahead of time the target set at the 2000 UN Millennium Summit of reducing by half the proportion of people living on less than 1 US dollar a day as well as of halving the proportion of people living in hunger by the year 2015.
A main reason for China's achievements in poverty eradication is that China follows a path of development that suits China's national conditions, integrates poverty eradication into the overall plans for the development of the Chinese national economy and social development, sets realistic targets of poverty alleviation and growth at various stages, and has moved from poverty relief to development and enhanced the self-development capacity of poverty-stricken areas. At present, China is formulating our 2006-2010 development plan in which poverty alleviation and development constitute a major task in our endeavor to build a moderately well-off society and socialist new rural communities in an all-round way in the 2006-2010 period. We believe this plan will further promote the Chinese economy and social progress.
The achievements cited above notwithstanding, China is a populous developing country where development across various regions is uneven. For China, poverty eradication remains a grim challenge and the number of poor people in need of help remains formidable. At the same time, those who have only recently solved the problem of access to food and clothing are still fragile and remain vulnerable to risks. Without continuous integrated assistance and improvements in their opportunities for development, they will easily relapse into dire poverty. For China, poverty alleviation has entered a key stage where solving the problem of access to food and clothing runs parallel to efforts in sustaining adequate food and clothing. Poverty reduction remains for us a long-term and arduous task.
In giving high priority to poverty eradication, the Chinese government has actively participated in international cooperation in poverty eradication while vigorously engaged in poverty alleviation efforts in China. In May 2004, China and the World Bank sponsored in Shanghai an international conference on poverty reduction. In May 2005, an International Center for Poverty Reduction was established in Beijing as a follow-up to the Shanghai Conference. The center will be mainly devoted to relevant policy studies in poverty eradication at the global level and human resources cooperation, and provide an international forum for summarizing, exchanging, and spreading the experience in poverty eradication, so as to enhance national capacities in this endeavor. At the UN High-level Meeting on Development Financing in September 2005, President Hu Jintao announced China's five new measures to assist other developing countries, i.e., zero tariff treatment, debt relief, concessional loans, cooperation in public health, and human resources training. All of this demonstrates China's commitment to the global fight against poverty as well as to making contributions to global efforts in poverty eradication. We will continue to strive to increase our exchanges and cooperation with other countries and international agencies and jointly promote the achievement of the goal of poverty eradication.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.