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Statement by Ambassador Shen Guofang Head of the Chinese Delegation at the 39th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development
(14 February 2001)


Madam Chairperson,

First of all, please allow me to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Delegation, our sincere congratulations to you on your election as Chairman of this Session of the Commission for Social Development. We are confident that with your wisdom, talents and experience, you will be able to guide the Session to a complete success.

Madam Chairperson,

The Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Social Development, successfully convened last June, adopted the Further Actions and Initiatives for Social Development, which has provided a plan of further action for promoting global social development and added vitality to efforts to realize the outcome of the Social Summit. Governments of all countries and the United Nations should take this opportunity to strengthen international cooperation and make new contributions to the eradication of poverty and the promotion of social development.

Today, the pace of the multipolarization of the world and economic globalization is accelerating. Against this background, the issue of social development is given more and more attention by all countries. The UN Millennium Summit, which was held last year, reaffirmed its concern about such social issues as poverty, narcotic drugs and Aids and called for strengthened efforts by all countries to solve those common issues for all humanity. Worryingly, due to the combination of the unreasonable old international political and economic order, warfare, natural disasters and the continued decrease of ODA from developed countries to developing countries, the gap between the North and the South has become even wider. The great number of developing countries are thus much constrained in their efforts for social development and are even in danger of being marginalized in the tide of economic globalization. Therefore, to achieve peace and to promote development remain the two primary tasks for the international community.

In the process of poverty eradication and the promotion of social development, the situation of vulnerable groups such as the disabled, the aged, the jobless and the retired, particularly, has drawn the attention of all governments. Their legitimate rights and interests should be protected. In formulating social development strategies and programmes, countries should first take into consideration the special interests of the vulnerable social groups, make policies as friendly to them as possible and establish or improve the social security system. And in promoting social development, efforts should be made to expand constantly the coverage of the basic benefits such as social insurance for employment, for care of the aged and for health care.

The Chinese Government appreciates the efforts made by the United Nations as well as relevant international organizations in promoting protection of the vulnerable social groups. We believe that developed countries should earnestly implement their pledge concerning ODA, so as to create necessary conditions for worldwide social protection.

Madam Chairperson,

The Chinese Government has taken as its main tasks in the new century the promotion of economic and social development and has drawn up its 10th Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development featured by an endevour to realize a relatively well-off life for all. In its strenuous efforts for economic and social development, the Chinese Government has attached enormous importance to the establishment and improvement of social security system, with a view to ensuring access to the benefits of economic and social development for all. The rapid economic growth that China has achieved has also laid a very good foundation for the improvement of its social security system. In 1994, China issued its Labour Law and followed up with a series of administrative regulations concerning retirement, the basic pension insurance for enterprise staff, the basic health care insurance for urban workers, unemployment insurance, insurance for accidents at work, birth insurance and other areas. Relevant authorities in China are currently working hard to draft its Social Insurance Law. In light of the situation of some of the laid-off workers from the state-owned enterprises, the Chinese Government has now started the nationwide "Re-employment Project", to create conditions for the re-employment of the laid-off or unemployed. Efforts have also been made to really ensure the timely and full payment of the basic living allowances for laid-off workers and pensions for retirees form the state-owned enterprises. The Central Government has put in place a regime of minimum living allowances security for urban citizens across the country, so as to provide relief and assistance to citizens in any situation of hardship and difficulty and to work towards building a social safety net.

Madam Chairperson,

The issue of aging, which involves the political, economic, cultural, social and many other areas, is an major issue bearing on the vital national interests, people's livelihood and the sustainable social development of a country. Great changes have taken place in the trend of aging of the world population, since the convocation of the First World Assembly on Aging in 1982. And the issue of aging has attracted the wide concern and attention of the international community. We support the UN to convene the Second World Assembly on Aging in 2002 and believe that the formulation of the new International Plan of Action on Aging will conduce to the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of the old persons.

At present, the elderly population over the age of 60 in China has reached 126 million, occupying about 10% of the total, the sign of an aging society. In order to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the old persons, China has put in place a series of laws and regulations and strengthened education on respect for and care of the elderly in the whole society, particularly among the young people. It has initially established social security regimes for care of the elderly and health-care and done a great deal to promote social benefits as well as educational, cultural and sporting services for the old. The quality of life for aged persons in China has thus been greatly enhanced. We hope that the international community will attach even more importance to the issue of aging and look forward to the success of the Second World Assembly on Aging.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

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