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Speech by H.E. Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly



World Summit For Social Development And Beyond: Achieving Social Development For All In A Globalizing World

Speech by H.E. Wen Jiabao,
Vice Premier of the State Council
of the People's Republic of China,
at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the threshold of the new century, we have gathered as scheduled in the picturesque city of Geneva to jointly review the implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Program of Action adopted five years ago, summarize the achievements and experience of different countries in the area of social development and hold discussions on how to realize, in the process of economic globalization, social development that enefits all the peoples in the world. We are convinced that under the leadership of Mr. Chairman and with the concerted efforts of all the delegations here, this meeting will make a success.

Mr. Chairman,

Looking back at the past five years since the World Summit for Social Development, we have noticed with delight that in recent years the issue of social development has received more attention from the intemational community than ever and that it has been given increasingly greater priority in the national development strategies of various countries.  National actions and international cooperation aimed at poverty eradication expansion of employment and greater social integration have been constantly reinforced. Progress has been made in the social development of various countries in the world, though to varying degrees.  However, we have to be soberly aware that the global social development still falls short of expectations.  With regional conflicts and local wars breaking out from time to time, people in some countries and regions still suffer from the scourge of war and turmoil.  The gap in wealth between the North and the South continues to widen, with developing countries faced with grim challenges.

The size of the world's population living in poverty has become bigger instead of smaller, leaving many people with no basic means for survival and development.  These cold facts tell us that global social development is a long and uphill battle and calls for protracted and unremitting efforts from all governments, peoples and the international community.  The Chinese Government is ready to work vigorously with other countries for the cause of global social progress.  To this end, I would like to emphasize the following four points on behalf of the Chinese Government.

1.  It is the shared responsibility of the entire human race to safeguard peace and promote development.  As mankind enters the new century, peace and development remain the two overarching themes of the world.  A peaceful and stable international environment is the prerequisite for social development of mankind.  China maintains that international affairs should be handled in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and that every country has an obligation to safeguard peace.

The past century has seen monumental achievements unmatched in history in the social development of human society.  It is a sacred mission for the governments and peoples in the world to achieve greater economic and social development and seek common progress and prosperity of the entire mankind in the new century.

2.  The right of a country to choose independently its path of development in light of its specific conditions should be respected.  We live in a diverse and colorful world.  Given the differences among countries in terms of environment, history, cultural tradition and social system and the disparities in their economic development level, it is impossible to ask all countries to adopt the same development model.  The world's diversity should be respected.  The principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in each other's internal affairs should be upheld.  The affairs of a country should be up to its own people to decide and developing countries should have the right to choose, in light of their own conditions, a development path tailored to their specific national characteristics.

3.  Economic globalization urgently calls for the establishment of a fair and reasonable new international economic order.  Economic globalization is an inevitable trend of economic development and it brings new opportunities to countries in the world.  Nonetheless, due to the hardened irrational international economic order, the globalization process has failed to benefit all countries evenly.  To truly realize a social progress that benefits all requires the establishment of a fair and reasonable new international economic order.  Countries, big or small, strong or weak, richor poor, are all equal members of the international family and all have the right to take part in the discussion and formulation of the "game rules" for international affairs.  The reasonable propositions and demands of developing countries should be accorded adequate attention.  In this connection the international organizations, the UN in particular, should play an even bigger role.  And developed countries should, by taking into account the common interests of mankind, resolve the debt issue of the poverty-stricken countries in an equitable and reasonable manner and provide developing countries with capital and technical assistance without attaching any political strings.

4.  Economic and social development remains a central task for the developing countries.  Poverty and unemployment are acute problems for developing countries.  The key to their solution lies in economic development.  It is a major task for the human society in its march into the new century to enable developing countries to achieve growth and prosperity.

This task calls for assistance and support from the international community and, more importantly, the efforts of the developing countries themselves.

They must keep abreast with the times, adopt a carefully-designed development  strategy, always maintain social stability, seize opportunities, accelerate development, reverse once and for all then-backwardness and create a better tomorrow by relying on the hard work of all their people.

Mr. Chairman,

Over the past five years, the Chinese Government has made an effort to fulfill its commitments made in the World Summit for Social Development.

China has achieved a sustained, rapid and sound economic development and made an all-round progress in educational, scientific, technological, cultural, health, sports and other social undertakings.  Through years of hard work, 1.25 billion Chinese people have made a historical leap from subsistence to a relatively comfortable life.  The Chinese Government has given special attention to the elimination of poverty and has succeeded, mainly by its own efforts, in reducing the size of the impoverished rural population from 250 million in 1978 to 34 million in 1999.  By the end of this year, we will be able to roughly meet the basic needs of the rural impoverished people.  The Chinese Government also pays much attention to the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of the disabled.  Over the past five years, the percentage of the disabled children going to school has risen from 20% to over 70% and that of the disabled people taking up jobs from 67% to over 73%.  The rehabilitation services for the disabled have also developed considerably.  The development and progress of China, the largest developing country in the world, constitute an important contribution to the cause of global social development.

China may come across numerous difficulties and challenges on its road ahead towards development.

The population and employment pressure, the poverty problem, the gap between the urban and the rural population and between different regions, and the increasingly acute resources and environmental constraints are among the problems that we are faced with.  We should never underestimate the difficulties.  But we have confidence, determination and capability to tackle these problems in the course of development.

Mr. Chairman, 

At the dawn of a new century, mankind is looking forward to a beautiful future.  It is the shared wish of the world people to leave war, hunger and poverty behind as part of the history and to see peace, prosperity and progress dominate the new century.  The Chinese Government and people stand ready to work tirelessly with all other governments and peoples in the world for the attainment of this goal.

Thank you.


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