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Striving for Common Development

H.E. Mme. Ambassador Xue Hanqin

Utrecht, 26 February 2006

Mr. President,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor for me to be invited to address the closing session of the UNISUN 2006. At the time when the UN reforms are undergoing a difficult but important process, your active participation in UN affairs is highly appreciated. It is even more commendable that you have chosen development as the theme for this year's conference. At the outset, I wish to express my warm congratulations on the success of the Conference and hope that delegates will depart here with a better understanding of the lofty cause of development that the UN carries and a stronger commitment to participate in the process for common development.

Enshrined in the UN Charter, development was identified as one of the main objectives of the world organization from the very beginning of its establishment. Over the past sixty years, the UN has played an irreplaceable and indispensable role in promoting "the economic and social advancement of all peoples". Through development agendas adopted since 1960s, great progress has been achieved in the social and economic fields. And yet development issues remain top priorities on the UN agenda, affecting not only the current world trade negotiations and UN reforms, but also more importantly, the existing world political and economic order. At the dawn of the new millennium, heads of States and governments gathered in the United Nations and set up the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with a view to striving for peace, prosperity and security for all peoples. More than six years have passed since MDGs were adopted. Some of the promises have been realized, and many others are yet to deliver.

Today we are living in a rapidly changing but more complicated world, where challenges and opportunities coexist, peace and development issues intertwined. With the stupendous advancement of science and technology, productivity around the world has increased remarkably and economic globalization has contributed to an overall growth of world economy, benefiting millions of people around the globe. At the same time, however, we should also recognize that opportunities derived from globalization are not shared by all States. Short of technical capacity as well as financial assistance, many developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, could not cope with effectively and meaningfully the economic and social challenges posed by the globalization, thus being further marginalized during the process. With reduced official development assistance (ODA) from the developed countries, development issues have not been adequately addressed at various international fora, particularly the United Nations for quite some time. Compared with that fifty years ago, the income gap between the rich countries and poor countries has been widened from 53: 1 in the 1960s to 121:1 today. Plagued by civil wars, regional armed conflicts and internal turmoil, developing countries with the African continent in particular are faced with tremendous difficulties in social and economic development, as the Outcome Document on the review of the MDGs adopted during the last session of the UN General Assembly points out that Africa is "the only continent not on track to meet any of the goals of the Millennium Declaration by 2015". On the global basis, most crucial of all is that the existing political and economic order does not militate in favor of a common development of all; the developing countries constantly face unfair trade barriers, protectionism and double standard in compliance with international law. Today in the global village, such threats as poverty, epidemic diseases, environmental pollution and natural disasters need, more than ever, concerted and committed actions of all States. Being the most important international forum, the United Nations should be duly seized with the task to mobilize world efforts to cope with these challenges. As the UN reforms are proceeding, development issues have inevitably become one of the focal areas for policy considerations. Today I would like to share with you some of the observations we have on these issues.

First, the United Nations should give equal priority and financial resources to development as it has on security issues. In the wake of the cold war, instead of ushering in a new era of peace, the world has experienced a turbulent decade, traditional and untraditional security threats on the rise. With much appreciation I have noticed that during this conference, some of the security issues have also been tackled by the delegates. It is certainly true that peace and stability are the prerequisite for social and economic development both at national level and in the international arena. In maintaining peace and security, multilaterism should be pursued and the collective security system be respected. Nevertheless, we should also realize that the root cause of political instability in many developing countries often lies in their social and economic underdevelopment. While addressing security issues such as international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and regional armed conflicts, the United Nations has to some extent shifted its policy directions, leaving development agenda much unattended and unfulfilled.

Secondly, common development depends on genuine cooperation between the North and the South. The 21st century has been marked as "a century of development for all". To achieve that noble goal, we must make joint efforts to meet the targets set up by MDGs. Today, 1.2 billion of the world population live on less than US$ 1 a day. By the end of 2005, an estimated 40 million people live with HIV. More than 115 million children of primary school age are out of school, and over a quarter of children under age 5 in developing countries are malnourished. The situation is more serious in the sub-Saharan Africa. In highlighting the fulfillment of MDGs, poverty alleviation is the most urgent and difficult task. For most developing countries agricultural sector still constitutes an essential part of their economy. The success of the Doha Round ultimately depends on the decision of the developed countries to cut off their agricultural subsidies so as to give the developing countries an equal opportunity to develop their economy and to reduce poverty. On the official development assistance, so far except a few countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and some other Nordic countries, many developed countries have failed to make ODA to 0.7 % of their national GDP as set up by the UN. This situation, if allowed to continue, will adversely affect the long-term development strategy for all countries, because burdened with heavy debt, it is critical for some poorest countries to get financial support to have their economy back on track. The UN development agenda should focus on capacity building, transfer of technology and financial assistance, taking into account the special needs of the developing countries.

Thirdly, common development can be achieved only through mutual benefit and mutual respect. Economic globalization alongside mass communications and transport has provided enormous business opportunities for transnational corporations as well as more chances for developing countries to take part in the world economy. Indeed, States are more than ever interdependent, and more keen than ever to promote international cooperation for the social and economic advancement. From zero-sum game to win-win approach, States have come to better understand that in the field of economic cooperation, it is often those mutually benefited cooperations that will bear lasting relationship. Given diverse social, economic and cultural conditions varying from country to country, common development for all can be achieved only through mutual respect for these differences. Past experience shows that without mutual benefit, cooperation will not sustain; lack of mutual respect, assistance will not assist.

Lastly, common development also means joint responsibility. For all countries including developing countries, the final solution to national development challenges in a sense lies in their own hands. Globalization offers opportunities but also brings risks to each and every country. Issues such as HIV/AIDS, climate change, energy resources, avian flu, demand concerted actions from all parties, including NGOs as well as civil society. In this regard, national government bears primary responsibilities not only for its own nationals but also for the interests of the international community as a whole. In the course of the process, the UN can play a positive and constructive role in promoting a sustainable development based on both rights and duties.

Since the end of the 1970s, China has embarked on economic reforms, shifting from planned economy to market economy. For over 26 years, we have managed to maintain an average annual growth rate at 9.4%. At the beginning of our economic reforms, there were over 250 million people living under poverty line. Through various poverty alleviation programs and projects at national, provincial and local levels, the number has been considerably reduced to 29 million, fulfilling the Millennium goals ahead of schedule. In recent years, China's rapid economic growth has won great admiration but also drawn some concern from other parts of the world, including Europe as where China's development will lead and what impact it will exert on the rest of the world.

In short, despite the remarkable achievements in its social and economic development, China remains a developing country, pure and simple. First, with a 1.3 billion population, it is a tremendous task for the government to provide a decent life for its people with subsistence, development and education. Each year 10 million people enter the work force; 12 million people need to be reemployed; 70 million disabled people should be taken care of. Poverty alleviation both in the rural areas and urban regions requires persistent efforts. Secondly, after 26 years' rapid development, China's economy has reached the stage where it has to pay more attention to regional discrepancy, resource efficiency, environmental protection, and balanced development between economy and social progress. Thirdly, engaged in rather than isolated from economic globalization, China still has to further its reforms in various sectors. Challenges of such magnitude determine that China still has a long way to go before it can claim a medium level developed country, a goal that is expected to reach by the middle of the century. Strategically, China's development means that we strive for a peaceful international environment to develop ourselves, while using our own development to preserve world peace.

China attaches importance to international cooperation with both developed and developing countries. Through its economic development and being the world's third largest importer, China has played a positive and constructive role in promoting regional cooperation and world development. According to World Bank's statistics, China's economic growth contributed on average 13 percent to world economic growth from 2000 to 2004. On South-South cooperation, at China's initiative, China-Africa Cooperation Forum and the China-Arab Cooperation Forum were established. Among others, at the Summit meeting of the 60th UN session, the Chinese government declared five new measures to help developing countries, particularly the least developed countries (LDCs). These measures include zero tariff treatment to some products from LDCs, exemption of partial debts, concessional loans, increased assistance for public health programs and human resources training. Even with limited capacity, China will continue to make its contributions to help other developing countries.

Mr. President,

Sixty years has passed since the founding of the United Nations. In the development field, UN has made great contributions to the world and proved to be the most important and irreplaceable international forum for coordination, cooperation and plan of action. We have every confidence to believe that with joint efforts of the member States, the UN through reforms will continue to play a leading role in striving for common development and making our century truly "a century of development for all".

Thank you, Mr. President.

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