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Statement by Chinese Ambassador ZHANG Yishan at the 58th Session of the General Assembly on Agenda Item "Global Road Safety Crisis"

2003/10/22

Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation supports the consideration by the current session of the General Assembly of the agenda item entitled "Global Road Safety Crisis".  I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to register our gratitude to the Permanent Mission of Oman for this initiative.  I would also like to thank Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General, for the informative report submitted to the General Assembly under this item.

Mr. President,

According to the report of the Secretary-General, road traffic injuries have become a public health crisis of global dimensions.  In 2000, 1.26 million people worldwide died as a result of road traffic injuries, accounting for 2.2% of global mortality and ranking as the ninth leading cause of human deaths and morbidity.  The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 road traffic injuries could rank third among causes of death and disability, ahead of such other health problems as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

A cause of concern is the fact that the losses sustained by developing countries as a result of road traffic injuries far exceed those of developed countries.  Of the 1.26 million road traffic fatalities in 2000, about 1.04 million occurred in developing countries, which translated into 88% of the total number of deaths whereas the developed countries accounted for only 12%.  Faced with this grave situation, it stands to reason for the international community to enhance cooperation and endeavor to improve road safety for all countries, the developing ones in particular.  In this context, I wish to make four points:

1. Ensuring road safety is a system project that involves human beings, vehicles, roads, the environment and management.  In formulating specific laws, policies and measures in an effort to remove a variety of causes of road traffic injuries, countries should take into account the overall picture and a whole range of factors.

2. As national governments bear the primary responsibility for road safety, they should give priority to preventive interventions, relying on the participation and collaboration of all sectors of society, heightening the safety awareness of relevant government departments, transportation authorities and the general public, and ensuring road safety.  

3. It is imperative to effectively beef up international cooperation.  Countries should increase their exchange of information, learn from one another and join their efforts in improving road safety.  As the developing countries suffer from economic constraints with their infrastructure and management yet to be perfected, the international community should provide the financial, technical and managerial assistance necessary to them.

4. The World Health Organization, which shoulders the heavy responsibility of keeping everyone in good health, should play an important role in coping with this problem.  We have noted with pleasure that WHO has chosen the theme of Road Safety for World Health Day 2004.  It is our hope that the related events will further heighten public attention to road safety in all countries and make traveling a safer and more comfortable experience.  

Mr. President,

China is a developing country.  Along with the sustained healthy growth of the Chinese economy over the past two decades, China's road construction and automobile industry have made significant headway. Questions such as how to try and improve road safety conditions, accelerate legislation on road safety, increase input in highway and urban road safety facilities, intensify the training and safety education of drivers, further improve road traffic accident prevention mechanisms, and upgrade the treatment and rehabilitation of those injured in traffic accidents-these are major challenges facing the Chinese government.  We hope to enhance cooperation with WHO and other international organizations and agencies, draw on the advanced experience of other countries and scale new heights in China's road safety capacity-building endeavours.

Thank you, Mr. President.
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