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Int'l Aid Still Needed for Poverty Reduction in China
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At a seminar in Beijing yesterday that was held to mark the role of foreign capital in China's 10-year poverty reduction drive, officials said China still seeks help in its efforts to improve the living conditions of its poor despite remarkable achievements, today's China Daily reported.

"We won't forget the active support of international organizations and countries for China's poverty-reduction undertakings, and NGOs and philanthropists who have helped in China's poverty-relief achievements," said Liu Jian, chief of the State Council's Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

The government hopes to strengthen international cooperation to cope with a range of new scenarios and problems in the fight against destitution, said Liu.

Since 1995, the Foreign Capital Project Management Center has overseen implementation of projects involving foreign funds of more than US$800 million, center director Jiang Xiaohua said.

Between 1981 and 2002, loans from international financial organizations for poverty relief in China approached US$8 billion, according to China Daily.

Along with domestic efforts, foreign aid has helped reduce the number of rural people living in abject poverty from 65 million in 1995 to 26.1 million in 2004, said Liu.

In addition to accelerating poverty relief in China, foreign-funded projects have also brought new development concepts and paved the way for sustainable development in targeted regions through training and participation of poor people, said Jiang.

While international development organizations continue to prioritize poverty eradication, support from rich countries to aid poor ones has been declining despite a repeated commitment to contribute 0.7 percent of their gross national product to development assistance, said Jiang.

Meanwhile, he said, unfair global trade rules have enlarged the wealth gap.

Some foreign governments and international financial organizations have readjusted their support strategies with regard to China, which has sustained rapid economic growth amid increasing global competitiveness, said Jiang.

"The reduction or discontinuation of favorable loans from international organizations has added to the country's difficulty in using foreign capital to relieve poverty," he said.

In addition to 26.1 million absolute poor, China has an even greater number of transient poor, said Jemal-ud-din Kassum, vice president for the World Bank's East Asia and the Pacific Region.

The poor are increasingly concentrated in remote areas among the most severely disadvantaged populations, said Sari Soderstrom, another World Bank official, adding that close to 200 million people still live below US$1 a day in some rural areas.

Along with the domestic efforts, Jiang said aid from the international community remains crucial in resolving a chain of fresh problems, including rural poverty and the plight of rural women.

In partnership with international organizations such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, China will develop projects to support agricultural and social development in central and western parts of the country and the old northeastern industrial bases, said Liang Ziqian, a Ministry of Finance division director.

(Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2005)

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