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Statement at the 59th Session of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
By Shen Guofang, Head of the Chinese Delegation, Assistant Foreign Minister

2003/09/01

Honorable Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to begin by congratulating you, Mr. Chairman, on your assumption of the chairmanship of this session. I am confident that, under your leadership, this session will be a complete success. I would also like to avail myself of this opportunity to extend my appreciation to the Thai Government and the ESCAP Secretariat for their meticulous arrangement for this meeting. Now allow me to speak on behalf of the Chinese Government on issues concerned.

Mr. Chairman,

Today's world is characterized with relatively eased international situation, deepening multi-polarization and economic globalization, and fast growing global and regional cooperation. Maintaining peace and promoting development are the shared aspiration of people across the world. However, the world we now live in is no perfect place. It is still plagued by local conflicts and frequent terrorist strikes. Global economic recovery is going slow. Poverty, unemployment, drugs, HIV/AIDS and transnational crimes remain thorny issues obstructing human development. Non-traditional security issues have not yet found a fundamental solution. Some of these problems are taking on new forms that are more acutely felt, calling for urgent solutions.

In the face of these challenges, countries are left with no other option but to work together in close cooperation to overcome difficulties. As the most representative and authoritative inter-governmental international organization of our age, the United Nations is an important instrument guiding international cooperation. Over the past decades, the UN has played an irreplaceable role in the maintenance of world peace and promotion of common development. As such, observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and defending the authority and role of the UN serve the grand cause of world peace and development and the fundamental interests of people of all countries. Asian-Pacific countries should, therefore, continue to value and endorse all UN activities and make concerted and consistent efforts towards a more rational international economic and political order based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation.

As a UN intergovernmental economic and social organization in the Asia-Pacific region, ESCAP provides an important venue for countries in this region to engage in exchanges and cooperation. After we have won significant victories over the SARS epidemic in the region, it is of realistic importance for us to center our discussions on the theme of "integrating economic and social concerns, especially HIV/AIDS, in meeting the needs of the region". The discussions today should also be taken as an opportunity to review our experience in the fight against SARS and other communicable diseases, to further enhance exchanges and cooperation, so as to inject new vigor in the economic and social development in this region. In this regard, I have three points to make.

First, countries in the Asia-Pacific region should endeavor to balance their economic and social development. Economic development and social progress are the driving forces of overall human advancement. The two forces are mutually complementary and reinforcing. For any country, sound and sustained economic growth can be achieved only in the presence of social stability and progress. Conversely, robust social development would not be possible without continuously developed economy. Indeed, our fight against SARS in the region earlier this year has given full exposition to the interaction between economic and social development and to the importance of promoting a balanced development.

Over the years, the Asia-Pacific region has been holding the lead in the world economic growth. However, the recent SARS outbreak laid bare some outstanding problems in social development. It is thus necessary for us to be fully aware of such urgency and form a concept of comprehensive development. We should work for a balanced development in the region between economic growth and social progress, urban and rural areas and man and nature. ESCAP should play its part in promoting cooperation among members in social development. With this in mind, the Chinese delegation, along with fellow delegations, has submitted to this session a draft resolution, "Strengthening Social Safety in the Asia-Pacific Region". China hopes that the resolution will enhance regional efforts in social safety and promote cooperation among ESCAP members.

Second, countries in this region should strengthen cooperation and upgrade public heath systems with intensified efforts to curb the spread of communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Public health is a key ingredient of social development and a key index to social progress. The recent SARS epidemic has heightened people's awareness of the importance and urgency to set up and improve our public health contingency response system, disease prevention and control system, supervision system for health law enforcement and international public health cooperation mechanism. China hopes that this meeting can serve as an opportunity for countries in this region to take immediate actions and work closer for more substantive cooperation in strengthening regional public health systems.

Like SARS, HIV/AIDS is a deadly communicable disease. The raging HIV/AIDS is not only a challenge to human life, but also a serious threat to the economic and social development of all countries. In today's world, Asia-Pacific is one of the regions hardest hit by HIV/AIDS with the fastest increase of infection rates. The inclusion of HIV/AIDS into the theme topic at this meeting fully shows the importance all sides have attached to this issue. We should be actively engaged in the prevention and control of the disease under the guidelines of seeking comprehensive control, removing both the root cause and symptoms, providing scientific guidance, and conducting close cooperation. ESCAP should play its role in such areas as personnel training, capacity building and information exchanges in which China is expecting substantive cooperation projects.

Third, while development, first and foremost, rests on each country's own efforts, international cooperation is crucial for developing countries. For the international organizations to fully function, the key is to translate into practice the objectives and plans of actions set at international conferences. I would like to stress here the importance of fostering an overall cooperation through resource integration, i.e., further coordinating the existing cooperation mechanisms for economic and social development. The UN has always been a major arena for international economic and social cooperation. It has initiated a range of high-level conferences, including the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World Food Summit, the International Conference on Financing for Development, the Meeting on Least Developed Countries, the UN Special Session of General Assembly on HIV/AIDS. In the implementation of their follow-up actions, it is necessary to secure greater coordination between different mechanisms not only in concept, but also in action. This will enable us to achieve good results in a more cost-effective and energy-efficient manner. China hopes that the resolution will be approved by the UNECOSOC and will be fully implemented.

We hope that ESCAP, with its unique expertise in this area, will continue its reform, improve work efficiency and focus on priorities, and play a role of leadership in regional economic and social development.

Mr. Chairman,

This year is a defining year for China in its efforts to build a well-off society in an all-round way, deepen its reform, promote development and maintain stability. We have successfully contained the SARS outbreak, controlled the disastrous floods, and overcome various difficulties to sustain a robust economic growth. We are now working to consolidate our success in SARS prevention and control to preclude any relapse and upgrade public heath system. In the meantime, we are taking measures to facilitate a more balanced economic and social development. China is confident and capable of realizing the development objectives set early this year.

China is committed to sustained peace and common development in the world. China will continue to pursue the independent foreign policy of peace and work untiringly for the establishment of a more just and rational new international order. China's development rests on the stability and development of the Asia-Pacific region and will in turn, contribute to the stability and development of this region and create opportunities for economic growth of other countries in the region. China will, in the spirit of enhancing mutual understanding and expanding cooperation, develop friendly relations with all countries and further integrate into the regional cooperation process.

Mr. Chairman,

China attaches importance to its cooperation with ESCAP and has taken an active part in activities of the organization. China will host next year's ESCAP 60th session in Shanghai, the birthplace of ESCAP, for which the Chinese Government has already set up a preparatory committee and full preparation is now under way. China will join other ESCAP members and work closely with ESCAP Secretariat to ensure the success of the upcoming meeting.

Thank you.

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